HOK & ARIDO’s excellent adventure… part 3

Posting on behalf of Deborah Rutherford, Operations Leader for HOK in Canada’s Corporate Accounts Practice and President of ARIDO.

Old slaughterhouse

December 3rd –  Introduction to Shanghai

Today was a day of contrasts. We saw a renovated cattle slaughterhouse originally built in 1933 which we could easily picture as the type of space we want to find for ARIDO’s new office. The complex has not been successful with most Chinese because of the connection to death, but there were some creative firms in the building, so maybe that will change. A glass floor has been inserted between two levels and a light and sound show for an event was being tested while we were strolling around. We also went to an upscale district with open air cafes, bars and specialty shops that highlighted unique contemporary artisans. It was reminiscent of Paris cafes as well as the urban renewal of areas like Toronto’s Distillery District. Later in the day we headed to the Yuyuan Market where the streets were crowded with open air food stalls and clothing vendors. Bicycles, motorcycles and cars jostled with pedestrians on the road and laundry was hanging overhead. This was my image of what China would look like. However, the contrast is exciting because it shows the opportunities that exist here for designers, not just with the brand new buildings, but also in the more traditional districts.

Yuyuan Market
Yuyuan Market

I was surprised at the effect a western tradition can have on this city – there were Christmas decorations everywhere. 85% of the fake Christmas trees that China exports go to North America, but it looks like they are retaining some for themselves. Santa is very popular here and we saw some of his elves in the Xintiandi district, although they looked a bit like characters out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Christmas Dinner with Santa's Elves

Tomorrow we see our consular trade representative at the design conference. Thank God for Gabriella from our fabulous HOK Marketing department who set me up with a great package – a masterful mix of Canadian expertise and Asian experience.


One Comment
  1. December 3rd, 2009 - 12:09 pm
    Nancy Yee said:

    Hi there, I am a Canadian Born Chinese Interior Designer. It is good that you are seeing China for real. Remember you must embrass the culture full-heartedly or you will not gain respect from the chinese. (Therefore, eat everything that is served.)
    Remember, history is very important but the future is every more important. NY

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