Chinese lifestyle is about spirit and temperament, not style — Wen Hao

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From time to time in the design practice of Wen Hao, we encounter a unique sense of Chinese-ness. He researches the association between traditional and contemporary, function and spirit, artisanship and art. You can feel his determination to break down these oppositional concepts in the style and orientation of his work.

Talking about huaren design, we cannot ignore Hao Style, a contemporary furniture brand established to bring Chinese traditions forward in time, using copper as a key material. Head of the Department of Furniture Design at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, and Dean of the Guangzhou Institute of Furniture, Hao follows the model, “production first, assist learning, and promote research.” He transforms abstract, academic thinking into product design innovation, integrating theory with practice.

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Hao Style redefines contemporary Chinese lifestyle. Hao describes it as about spirit and temperament, not style. Fusing Eastern and Western culture through advanced technology and refined artisanship, new possibilities are created. Hao believes when designers emphasize functionality, design will carry form. Meanwhile, when designers create Art, design will carry spirit.

In the Toaist “Book of Changes” (I Ching) it says, “Hence that which is antecedent to the material form exists, we say, as an ideal method (Tao) and that which is subsequent to the material form exists, we say, as a definite thing (tool).” Hence, Hao departs from the equation of “Tao” and “tool” in his artistic creation. He is dedicated to achieving spiritual association and harmony within contemporary means, such as the individual, the era, the tradition; to create works that transcend the era and endure time, achieving eternity.

For example, the Cloud Dragon (Yunlong) Chair reimagines the traditional Chinese round-back arm chair, and and Teacher’s Chair is based on the official’s hat chair. Reinventing the classics, he strikes a balance between the independent and autonomous, locality and globality, sign and spirit, practicality and aesthetics of contemporary huaren design thinking. His innovative method draws parallels with the concept of reincarnation.

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When talking about the balance between market preference and personal style, he says neither of them concern him because the market demands something more than material, and personal style is not equivalent to form. Therefore, it is necessary to takes risks with huaren design, to pluck peoples heartstrings, and surpass their expectations.

In regards to the Chinese market, many international enterprises are beginning to pay more attention. Instead of regarding it as a huge material consuming market, it could be better viewed as a huge spirit consuming market. Chinese culture has grown in soft power value. With grounding in both Eastern values and worldview, huaren design will grow rapidly.

Finally, he believes the spirit of independence will catalyze the global success of huaren design in the future. The profound essence of Chinese culture provides an enriching power source to huaren design. Starting from the “Tao” in the East, approach the “tool” of the world, and create contemporary huaren design.

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About Wen Hao

Wen Hao is a renowned Chinese artist, scholar, and curator. He is Dean of the Institute of Furniture at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, associate professor and mater’s student adviser. He is also Deputy Director of  the Chinese Furniture Design Association, and Deputy Director of the Interior Decoration Committee, Chinese Interior Decoration Association. As the Founder of Hao Style, a contemporary furniture craft brand, he calls his practice the “modernization of Chinese tradition”, fusing advanced technology with traditional craftsmanship. He redefines the experience of contemporary Chinese lifestyle. 

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