east meets west?!

being in hong kong in the 80’s, all the cool magazines were talking about east meets west. it seemed like an interesting concept back then. i was thinking maybe that was hong kong, a place where all the westerners would wear cheongsam (qipao), all the chinese would drive their mercedes benz in suits, and all the 5 stars hotels would have some vintage chinese teak furniture somewhere.

by late 80’s early 90’s, i got to study abroad at the states. and i could not find anyone talking about west meets east in new york. there are all different kinds of cultures coming and melting together, but everyone maintains their identity. the sushi restaurants were packed with westerners, but you would not see them wearing kimonos. then, what is my identity as a designer from hong kong? i realized that the marketing plot of east meets west is very damaging to the sense of belonging of all the hong kong people. maybe it could help selling a few more pieces of silk dresses from shanghai tang, but it could not be the foundation of an international brand. comparing it to prada, and you can easily see something missing in the dna of shanghai tang.

what is the east and what is the west anymore? modern technology and the internet in particular is making the world a much smaller place with information travelling with the speed of light. thus, the meeting of the 2 is no longer as interesting as it was 30 years ago. it is far more important now to maintain who we are in the east then to meeting the west. it is far more exciting to get to know more about our avant-garde artists in beijing and their works then to research about impressionism. and it is far more joyful to travel within the greater china area to gain a better understanding of us as a people then to visit the static european countries. we have been very curious about the outside world for the past 20 years, and it is time to keep that curiosity and turn it inward. what we might see could surprise ourselves.

(first published in the oct. 2010 issue of his life magazine)






(第一次发表: 2010年10月 他的生活杂志. 翻译: grace chen)

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