Another shipment from Northern China is just about to arrive to our warehouse this week! Northern China was the first place we imported from all those years ago and it’s honestly still my favourite shipment to unpack. Everything out of China has such a timeless look. The timber colours and grains are amazing and the styles you know will look good 100 years from now.
China itself is probably not as exciting to visit as India. India is a seriously amazing place. The colour, vibe, people, culture…everything is full on and at maximum volume. China is more controlled - still rich in culture and history but Chinese in general seem more low key to me. For me as a visitor, it still has it’s frustrations... getting a visa for start is always a nightmare…I hate forms. Getting a taxi from the airport after I land is also a nightmare and these days I avoid taxis. I have actually made it my rule now when traveling anywhere in India or China - NO TAXIS. The amount of times the driver has tried to rip me off had gotten to a point where I thought 'no more!'. It must be my lost look or something, not that I am lost though? I don’t know but I seem to be a target. I have been in places where I know how much the fare charge will be, as I have done the route numerous times, and I am getting drivers that won't use a meter or will quote ten times what I know is the usual rate. It seems to be common I am told, so there’s my tip - avoid taxis!
Enough of the negativity though, as I do love my trips to China. We have a great freight agent over there who doubles as my translator and each day we spend hours driving to different dealers in the countryside visiting the sheds and trolling through what they have to offer. It’s always exciting getting to the dealers and opening the doors to all of their treasure. Even after years of doing this I still ring or message Tara with news of great finds.
A lot of the dealers these days are venturing into making new furniture which is making it a little harder as we prefer older one-off pieces. We rarely visit some of the suppliers we used to buy loads off, as they now only make new furniture. The local Chinese economy as everyone knows is massive, so quite a few suppliers of furniture have given up on us 'picky importers' and focussing on the developing domestic market. Buying the old pieces is the focus for us though. We love the story. Hundreds of times a trip I’ll ask “What was this used for?”. We can’t ask that for new pieces and there is something so attractive about furniture or decor that was used in a traditional culture - the story has soul and value!
So another container is due in tomorrow. We will unload it and ask ourselves, how did they fit all that in there? We'll cut away the cardboard from each piece and then trolley, push or carry every single piece into the studio and photograph it. It’s a mammoth effort to go through for every piece but it’s doing all that which makes what we do special…we love it!