For Christmas I was given a pair of Chinese guardian lions, or shi (獅). Statues of guardian lions have stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, and homes since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). They were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. Pairs of guardian lion statues are still common decorative and symbolic elements, at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets. The lions are usually depicted in pairs. The male leaning his paw upon an embroidered ball, in imperial contexts this represents supremacy over the world. The female is restraining a playful cub that is on its back, representing nurture. My guardian lions are made of a resin material instead of stone, so they sit proudly in our lounge. They’re also bright yellow, and came from Chievoo, one of my favorite furniture stores.
Chievoo opened nine years ago and is located on the 6th floor of Sanlitun 3.3 Costume Building (3.3大厦). They have their own designers and offer a selection of European style furniture, with something designed to fit in every household. Their designers come from the US, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, and Spain, but everything is made in China. They have an extensive selection of sofas and chairs, lounge and bedroom furniture, lighting, art, and quirky accessories. Their lease at 3.3 expires at the end of February 2015, so the existing store will be reduced in size by around 50 percent. The store will then focus on smaller furniture items and accessories. Larger furniture items will be on show and available to purchase at their existing warehouse shop. Many furniture items are now on sale, as they hope to clear stock before the store re-modelling.
If you’re in to art deco furniture, then Chievoo is the place you’ve been looking for. Art deco began in Europe, particularly Paris, in the early years of the 20th century, but didn't really take hold until after World War I. It was not just for the elite. By the 1930s, mass production meant that everyone could live in the deco style. The style was very geometric with angular shapes, a lot of chrome, glass, shiny fabrics, and mirrors were incorporated. It was also quite theatrical, with highly polished wood and glossy black lacquer, mixed with satin and furs. Chievoo has art deco chairs, drinks cabinets, and many items of lounge furniture in this style.
Some items can be custom made, and many are made to order, so factor in a couple of months if you’re planning on buying before departing Beijing. All items can be delivered to your home, but prices vary according to your location. The collections are regularly updated, and the store’s presentation modified every month, so there’s always something new to find. Chievoo is one of the best places to go, for good quality furnishings that are a little bit different.
This article first appeared on beijingkids.
Photos: Sally Wilson
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