First days in Beijing

First days in Beijing

First chance to sit down and draw breath after a few very busy days in Beijing! I arrived on Thursday evening and straight to work on Friday with a visit to the factory of one of our main suppliers here, who produce our beautiful Chinese Country furniture. This style is very much their speciality, using reclaimed solid woods and producing high quality finishes that show the natural character of the material. As well as the elm used for our own furniture they work with pine, poplar other woods. The wood is old and well seasoned, taken from buildings mostly around Shandong or Hebei provinces. We discussed some new projects, including some samples they had produced specifically for my visit. The results look great – well constructed but still with the character that is unique to furniture that is handcrafted rather than machine made. I look forward to developing these pieces further with a view to adding them to our range in the near future. I was also able to inspect a couple of ‘made to order’ cabinets at the woodwork stage, due to be shipped for customers in a month or so.

Antique Mongolian sideboard with original paintings Removing nails from reclaimed logs before use in production New delivery of reclaimed poplar logs Beautiful pink blossom in the grounds of our Beijing supplier’s factory

As is the case with the majority of factories around Beijing, this particular supplier used to deal mainly in antique restoration and export but gradually moved over to production furniture over the years as the supply of antiques has dwindled. However, the owner still has a few hundred Chinese antiques available – some of which are at the higher end of the market and which he is sensibly holding onto as part of his retirement fund. I therefore took the opportunity to pick a few items for our next container, including one or two Mongolian cabinets (rarely seen with other suppliers) and a lovely round table in walnut.

On Saturday I met up with another of our regular suppliers. This one still deals mainly in antiques, although they are also developing an ever increasing range of reproduction pieces – mostly based on ‘Gansu’ style furniture – simple in design but in colourful lacquers or with various traditional painted designs of landscapes or flowers. As well as the more traditional black and red lacquers, they also offer more ‘trendy’ colours – powder blues, pinks and purples that give a modern twist to classic designs. Their standard finish has a classic, shiny look that they do better than other workshops around Beijing and that I like to combine with the more stripped back, natural look that some of our other antique restorers specialise in.

They still have a lot of antique painted pieces that originated in Gansu and nearby Qinghai province, as well as painted armoires and sideboards from Shanxi and trunks and cabinets from the northeast region of Dongbei. Whilst a lot of these pieces are refinished in red or blue lacquers, there were also a few still with the original paintings. In all I selected around 30 antiques for our next container and also discussed some of their reproduction pieces. I hope to be able to offer much of their production furniture on our website in the future and we will hold a few of these in our showroom for viewing from later in the year.

More to follow soon…

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