PYJAMAS AND SLIPPERS For the Shanghainese, there’s no distinction between public space and private space: the whole of the city is their home. However, with our Western eyes, we search for the boundary between public and private. [ + ]
PYJAMAS AND SLIPPERS
For the Shanghainese, there’s no distinction between public space and private space: the whole of the city is their home. However, with our Western eyes, we search for the boundary between public and private. It doesn’t exist: public is private, and vice versa. But people are having to fight to keep alive many of the customs that make the Shanghainese so comfortable in this living space of theirs. On my first day in Shanghai: – Hey guys, have you seen that guy wearing blue striped pyjamas riding a moped?! – Yeah, right. Later: – Oh! There’s another one, in the supermarket, look! – Yeah, you’re right! Take a picture! Later on still: – Jammies and slippers are everywhere! People wear them when taking a nap outside their homes, taking their children to school, eating, shopping, driving, riding their bikes…
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UNDERWEAR Buying a bra was a conscious decision. Getting new clothes, shoes, going to the tailor, could all have happened to me at any moment, as spontaneous decisions. [ + ]
Buying a bra was a conscious decision. Getting new clothes, shoes, going to the tailor, could all have happened to me at any moment, as spontaneous decisions. Going to buy a bra, somehow, was different. I went with a friend of mine. We saw some amazing bra systems. Truly ingenious systems. Some seemed to attach to your back with just a single strap, while others featured elaborate patterns of straps that would transform into another, different pattern in order to support the breasts, almost like a piece of origami. Others didn’t seem to need any breasts inside them, as they were already satisfied with the cotton, gel or water pads contained within them. I decided to try one of the origami bras, which would subtly tattoo my back with a kind of butterfly motif. Inside the changing-room cubicle, however, I realized that trying on this bra would be more than a simple choice; it would be a major challenge. I stood there, thinking I had understood the system, only for everything to fall apart when I opened it. I tried to put it back together in every way imaginable, recomposing its intricate form and attempting to fit myself into it, but things didn’t quite work out as I had hoped… and by this time, quite some time had passed. The woman in the shop decided to ask how I was doing. Hearing my answer in bad, breathless Chinese, she decided that she had to come into the cubicle to help me. She looked at me, and then, with a series of almost computational movements, she solved the problem, and I had the bra in place, with everything exactly where it should be. She looked at me and asked if I would like the bra; I simply couldn’t believe what had happened, that someone could just walk in and do that. Once my friend and I had bought these masterpieces, we both came to the conclusion that this had been a perfect Shanghainese experience. Back in the West, no one would have ever dared to do this – to barge into your cubicle and dress you, essentially – and I wouldn’t ever have allowed it, not by a long chalk. But here, in a city where the borders between public and private aren’t really fixed, in a city whose inhabitants feel at ease everywhere they go, where pyjamas can be deemed the perfect outdoor attire for the day’s activities, where my kitchen is everyone’s kitchen, it seemed normal. The boundaries are drawn differently here.
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SEVEN – GHOST MONTH – GHOST DAY Seven is one of the few numbers that is as lucky in the West as it is in the East. In Chinese culture, all annual rituals are determined in accordance with the moon. [ + ]
SEVEN – GHOST MONTH – GHOST DAY
Seven is one of the few numbers that is as lucky in the West as it is in the East. In Chinese culture, all annual rituals are determined in accordance with the moon. In Chinese, as in Latin-based languages, the moon is female; it is the yin ; and it is the moon that determines the propitious day for every Chinese ritual. Accordingly, the seventh month in the lunar calendar belongs to the ghosts, and so it is known as the “Ghost Month”; (鬼月) and the fifteenth day of this month is the “Ghost Day”. On this day, the deceased, emerging from the lower realms, are believed to visit the living. As an important Buddhist and Taoist festival, many rituals are performed in order to ease the pain of the deceased, by transmuting and absolving their suffering; to achieve this, their appetite should be satisfied and prayers should be said.
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SHARING FOOD A dear friend came to Shanghai to visit me. Over the previous couple of months, I had been seeing such fast development, not just in terms of buildings going up and coming down, but also in the choice of restaurants available. [ + ]
A dear friend came to Shanghai to visit me. Over the previous couple of months, I had been seeing such fast development, not just in terms of buildings going up and coming down, but also in the choice of restaurants available. Not only were international restaurants starting to appear but, more importantly, Chinese cuisine was becoming more prominent in restaurants. This made my life in Shanghai even richer. Although food unifies this country, the variety of options available in China is endless. Different food customs are passed down through the generations, whether regional cuisine or food associated with certain rituals. For every ritual and custom, there is something to be eaten at a specific time and in a specific place. In particular, there are daily rituals – the familiar rituals of day-to-day life. Sharing food, sharing the same food from the same plates at the same table, for instance. The moment when Chinese people eat together is a moment of joy. The Chinese will hold meetings with business partners around a dining table. The difference in the West is that we would often rather go somewhere for a drink. The Chinese, on the other hand, go somewhere to eat. Of course, you can drink while eating. But the importance of the restaurant must not be ignored.
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HOROSCOPE Tell me which animal you are and I will tell you what kind of person you might be. Being a pig has been proven to open Chinese doors. [ + ]
Tell me which animal you are and I will tell you what kind of person you might be. Being a pig has been proven to open Chinese doors. Whenever I mention my horoscope sign, it always elicits one of two reactions: – Ohhh, good! – Mmm, you are lucky!
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PERSONAL SQUARE METRE When you come from the West, many Chinese customs can seem shocking when you first encounter them in Shanghai – actual culture shocks. Food, religion, ways of crossing the street, ways of addressing men, women and foreigners, clothing rules and decorum at the table – everything is different. [ + ]
PERSONAL SQUARE METRE
When you come from the West, many Chinese customs can seem shocking when you first encounter them in Shanghai – actual culture shocks. Food, religion, ways of crossing the street, ways of addressing men, women and foreigners, clothing rules and decorum at the table – everything is different. Many questions suddenly present themselves: what things can and can’t I talk about? Then there’s the tactile aspect, too: am I allowed to touch someone? Are they allowed to touch me? One element that quickly emerges in guise of an answer to some of these questions is space. When queuing, waiting, taking public transport, buying tickets for the train (or indeed tickets for anything at all), dancing, whatever, remember this: your space is everyone’s space; your square meter of “personal space” doesn’t belong to you alone.
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Le Sensual City Studio est conçu comme un lieu de réflexion où se fabrique la pensée, long cheminement nécessaire au travail de conception et de réalisation des projets. Approcher l’espace dans sa complexité physique, fonctionnelle, sociologique, nécessite un décloisonnement des disciplines et un travail collectif : c’est ce que reflète la composition de l’équipe, étoffée par un riche faisceau de contributeurs. Cette démarche, à la croisée des savoirs et de la création, permet la rencontre des regards : une démarche de co-construction ouverte qui enrichit la compréhension des enjeux et donne un sens à la conduite des projets menés au sein du Studio. Cette posture de recherche et d’approfondissement s’inscrit dans la tradition humaniste du studio, cabinet d’étude de la Renaissance où sciences et arts convergent et se nourrissent de leurs apports mutuels.
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