Old Shanghai Style Furniture is referred to the furniture both in oriental or western style which was made between 1843 and 1949 in Shanghai. The image of Shanghai antique furniture is a commodity combining the western style with Chinese traditional materials. They including: western furniture import from Shanghai, modern furniture produced in 1920s – 1930s in Shanghai, Atiq Style furniture produced in 1930s – 1940s in Shanghai.
Development of Shanghai Antique Furniture
The combination style of Shanghai old furniture was caused by its historical factors.
Most parts of Shanghai, especially in the present areas including the Bund and the Xujiahu, once became the concessions of may foreign countries such as Britain, America, and France. And with the construction of foreign administrators in these areas, more and more western commodities were imported in this city. Furniture was one of the representatives of that time.
And in 1910s to 1920s, the New Culture Movement (around the time of the May 4th Movement in 1919) sprung up. This movement called people to receive the advanced knowledge from the western country. Chinese people gradually accepted western style suite. And with this wave, a reformation in the furniture market also happened. Lots of people in Shanghai became collectors of western furniture. And without a lack of supplement situation, more and more Chinese western style furniture manufactures moved their factories in China, especially in Shanghai. Also made in Shanghai, furniture was still in western style to meet people’s preference.
And in 1930s, the traditional Chinese furniture also gradually accepted western style furniture. The upper class preferred red woods used in furniture. Traditional Chinese furniture craftsman applied the western furniture character and improve the structure of traditional Chinese furniture. With this improvement, the Shanghai antique furniture was emerged.
Old Shanghai Style Furniture
Pattern of Old Shanghai Furniture
Shanghai furniture followed a pattern combining both tracks while using resources specific to the city. The ancestral art of Chinese wood carving was used to create modern pieces following art deco design. Since the manpower was cheap and plentiful, Shanghai furniture were crafted like the French ones, but using less precious material and manufactured on a large schale. Wood carving replaced precious wood inserts in furniture decoration, creating highly modern and decorative pieces at an affordable price. The result was a unique combination of craft and industry.
Symbol of modernity, Shanghai Style furniture where widely adopted by the middle and upper class of Shanghai that was fast developing in the 1920′s and early 1930′s. They followed the Art Deco movement in style but were often adapted to local traditions. Best examples are pairs of seaters separated by a tea table, or mahjong tables that are specific to China. Just like traditional Chinese furniture, they were often more decorative than usable.
Shanghai Style furniture and other related items such as radio sets and electric fans became ubiquitous in Shanghai. In a city obsessed with modernity, Shanghai Style furniture became the mainstream style like nearly nowhere else. The style fade away in the 1950′s but Shanghai residents kept them for long time because of lack of replacement. With plenty of new choices available from 1990′s, these old pieces were often discarded, replaced by new and shiny ones. They are now often used by designers in Shanghai to give the feeling of Old Shanghai in an interior.