As London comes down from a Frieze Week high, Paris is gearing up to host the collecting cognoscenti. Anchoring the week are Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) and Asia Now (both October 20-23), the first European fair dedicated to contemporary Asian art.
The second Asia Now features nearly double the number of exhibitors present last year – at more than 30 – and more performances, speaker panels and special exhibitions. The most standout should be the joint show held by Christie’s and Shang Xia, the Chinese contemporary design firm co-owned by Hermès. The show shines further light on modern Chinese design as an exciting new genre that’s catching the attention of global design enthusiasts.
Twelve pieces will be exhibited for the first time at the fair, showcasing what Shang Xia does best: injecting traditional Chinese craft with a cool, modern aesthetic (Shang Xia means “up, down”, signalling the movement from past to present to future).
The company reinterprets ancient Chinese techniques and materials. The eggshell porcelain Echo bowl (€2,310), for example, is less than 0.5mm thick and fired in kilns at 1,200°C, with each piece taking up to two months to produce. It comes in a range of colours, from glazed pure white, pale blue or green to a bolder red or black print. Another highlight is the Wu Fu vase (€2,350), which separates into a set of plates and containers – a construction that echoes the making of the piece’s cracked-porcelain finish.
But it’s the Carbon Fibre chair (€4,200) that best showcases Shang Xia’s experimentation with avant-garde materials. Rooted in the iconic Ming dynasty form, the sleek, thin chair is a technical feat, weighing only 2.7kg and withstanding up to 200kg of pressure. Epoxy finishes in warm grey or imperial blue bring the creations into the 21st century – and offer a taste of what this promising modern Chinese design firm will wow with next.