Tag Archives: hangzhou

Four Characters

Mostly comprised of four characters, idioms, or chengyu, are one of the most beloved methods of expression in China. The appeal of chengyu lies in their power to convey complex and wordy ideas in a concise manner. But being that many of these phrases originated from ancient Chinese literature, they can, at times, be difficult to make sense of without an understanding of their original context. Luckily, the more convoluted expressions have all but faded from the colloquial lexicon in modern-day China, while many of the easier-to-understand idioms are still widely used.

Today, the internet has become a breeding ground for linguistic creativity. Chinese netizens have begun cleverly crafting their own four-character phrases that follow the formula for traditional idioms. One such phrase birthed by the internet is rén jiān bù chāi (人艰不拆), which translates to “life is already hard enough as is, just cut me some slack.” It’s most often used in a jestful manner. Another quirky internet expression that’s made the rounds in recent times is kōu jiǎo dà hàn (抠脚大汉), which is equivalent to “catfishing” in American slang, but it’s tailored to specifically refer to a man pretending to be a woman.

Similarly, many emojis and stickers used in Chinese messaging apps have followed this trend. Images accompanied by four or five-character phrases are commonplace; they’re used to add humor or alter the expression’s original meaning. While much of these are basically Chinese memes, they serve as a testament to the linguistic versatility and nuanced possibilities of the Chinese language. Designer and recent college graduate Xia Ruolan found herself intrigued by the evolution of these expressions, and in wanting to help explain their meanings to a Western audience, she created Four Chars, an illustration project that translates and simplifies some of the more commonly seen four-character Chinese phrases.



In the early days of Four Chars, Xia mainly used the project as a way of setting aside personal time for herself after work, a way to unwind from her stressful days. Xia recalls the many trials and tribulations that she experienced within the first year of her career: She underwent four different boss changes, switched departments three times, and even had to relocate to another country. But aside from helping her cope from the stresses of work, and perhaps more importantly, the project was a way for Xia, who’s spent much of her life abroad, to reconcile with her cultural roots.

“It may seem like being independent and living in a new country is a liberating experience,” she tells us. “But the truth of the matter is, it felt like I was running into dead ends everywhere.”

Being that Xia’s mother tongue is Chinese, Xia often found herself unable to fully articulate certain ideas in English. Out of these frustrations, she gained a newfound appreciation for the depth and versatility of the Chinese language. Xia wanted a way to share the beautiful subtleties and complexities of her native language with the world but needed to figure out an easily accessible approach. Noting the vast amounts of four-character expressions that exist nowadays, Xia came up with the idea to use illustration to offer easy-to-understand explanations for these common Chinese phrases, and thus, Four Chars was born.


作为一个中文母语者,夏若兰说,她不时会面临有货倒不出的困窘。有些略带俗气的双关词语,让夏若兰一再感受到汉语词汇的广博且充满弹性(雅俗共赏)的内涵。这也让她产生了某种使命感,要让汉语的丰富含义更加平民化地传播。加之夏若兰发现 Instagram 汉语学习专题与插画专题相交叉的一个市场空白,每四个汉字都可能是一个触发点,画面的创作空间非常广阔。“四字画语”就此诞生了。

From fine art to movies and video games, Xia’s inspiration comes from a variety of different sources. “One time, I was cooking something with Sriracha. I was just staring at the bottle of red sauce, and the idiom rè huǒ cháo tiān (热火朝天) popped up in my head mind. At the same time, an image of René Magritte’s surrealist paintings surfaced in my mind. Combining the two, I came up with the idea to draw a bunch of Sriracha rockets flying into the sky as a way of presenting the idiom.”

要说灵感的发源,艺术家的作品、电影游戏的画面,都会成为夏若兰的启发点,“有一次我用 Sriracha 辣酱(中国好像买不到,但在海外很火的中国特色辣酱)做晚饭,看着红红的瓶身,就想到了热火朝天那个词。脑海中又有超现实主义艺术家雷内马格里特(René Magritte)的经典画作,于是就画出了一大堆辣酱瓶子因为自身太辣变成了火箭往天上飞的场景。”

Xia acknowledges that conceptualizing and executing the illustrations aren’t the toughest steps of the creative process. The most challenging part lies in the fact that there are lots of four-character phrases that simply cannot be explained in a sentence or two. “In most cases, I have to simplify the full meaning; if the dictionary doesn’t explain the literal meaning or breakdown underlying connotations of the phrase, I also have to figure out how to add it in. My boyfriend will often help out too and fix up my ‘Chinglish.’” Xia says, grinning. “But when I’m trying to translate these idioms, it’s not just about their meaning. The most important thing is to explain why its an interesting phrase.”

One of the quirkier phrases Xia covers in the series is “děng dēng děng dēng (等灯等灯),” a four-character onomatopoeia that references Intel’s iconic jingle. The first and third character, děng (等), means wait. The second and fourth character, dēng (灯), means light. Her illustrations present a literal interpretation of the phrase with characters holding traffic lights. This expression is most often used as playful banter between friends and simply means “wait” or “hold on a minute.”

Another phrase Xia enjoyed working on was wèi ài gǔ zhǎng (为爱鼓掌), which is a double entendre. Its literal meaning is “clap in the name of love,” but in Chinese, the onomatopoeia for clapping – “pa, pa, pa” (啪啪啪) –  is associated with the sounds of intercourse (or specifically, the sound of skin slapping against skin). The expression is essentially used as a euphemism for talking about sex. Taking into consideration of the fact that many people might not understand the dual meaning of the phrase, she decided to approach the illustration and definition in a literal manner. Another point she took into consideration is that if she were to present the true meaning through illustration, it’d most likely result in a raunchy image that could be censored by Instagram. Xia tells us, “It was fun to look at the comment section for this post,” she says. “Many people who’re aware of the true meaning were cracking jokes with other double entendres.”

但往往最难的不是设计本身,而是那些无法用三言两语去解释的字词。“大多数情况是,自己把词典提供的释义进行略微的改动;如果词典没有提供引申义和字面义的,自己也需要补上。有时候在美国的男友也会帮忙改语法,以及改掉我比较 Chinglish 的部分。”夏若兰说,“在解释这些词的时候,不仅要解释字面义,还要解释为什么这个词是有趣的。”


Having never been formally trained in art, Xia says this project is actually her first-ever attempt at dabbling with illustration. “While Four Chars has helped me a lot personally, it’s actually my first time ever doing something like this. It’s helped me with managing my stress, but in a way, it’s pretty much just escapism. […] I do feel a sense of elation and relief whenever I’m working on the project. It feels different from doing something just to kill time. There also aren’t any extreme ‘eureka’ moments nor do I experience creative stagnation; the project lets me channel my creativity in a pretty consistent way. I also get to experiment with new styles or aesthetics every day.”

Recalling what life was like before she began the project, Xia estimates that 90% of her time was spent figuring out how to be more effective, how to work faster, and how to get results. Being locked into this mentality led her to feel restless and irritable all the time. “So, as someone who’s always looked within for answers, I began asking myself how I could get out of this slump. I guess I hoped I could use the remaining 10% of my time to come up with an answer, and it turns out, Four Chars was the result of that – this project gave me a chance to work on something that didn’t necessarily need an end goal. It was time that I can use for my personal enjoyment and to better myself creatively. In a way, I’m grateful. If I didn’t face the hardships that I did, then I wouldn’t have come up with Four Chars. Its helped me find motivation in all aspects of my life.”


因为之前受到种种压力的影响,夏若兰每天可能会有 90% 的时间在让自己加速、高效、出成果,需要做到“充实”。但这种充实却建立在浮躁本身的泡沫之上。“于是,习惯于独立思考的我立即开始向内心求助,祈求着那个 10% 的我的援助。‘四字画语’就是那个 10% 的时间,它给了我一个‘沉浸做一件事不求目的’的时间段,是一个享受匠人精神的时间段。如果没有之前的转折,就没有四字画语的初心。它像是一个自我鞭策的存在。”

Website: ruolan.design
: @four_chars


Contributor: Chen Yuan

网站: ruolan.design
Instagram: @four_chars


供稿人: Chen Yuan

No Word From Above

Li Hui is a Hangzhou-based photographer who has been trying to express her sensitive personality and feelings through photography ever since she got her first film camera. Influenced by cinema, music, nature, and the human body, Li’s creative development stems from her willingness to continuously experiment with the medium. When viewing her masterful use of light and distinct style, many find it hard to believe that she’s a self-taught artist. Recently, the talented photographer self-published her third photography book, No Word From Above, which features a collection of her images from 2016 to 2017.

李晖是一名身在杭州的摄影师,自她有了第一部相机之后,她就一直在试图通过镜头传达自己的切身感受和易感的个性。受到来自电影、音乐、自然和人体的影响,李晖作品中的创造性正是因为她热衷于不断实践。她熟练掌握的光影技能和具有个人辨识度的风格,让人很难相信她是一个自学成才的艺术家。 她出版了几本摄影书籍,最近刚刚发行了自己出版的书《No Word From Above》。她的作品已被世界各地不同的出版物和杂志刊登。

No Word From Above is available for purchase on Li’s website, Tictail, and Weidian. Signed and numbered in a limited edition of 500.

《No Word From Above》现在可以通过李晖的个人网站Tictail微店进行购买,限量签名版总计500份。

No Word From Above by Li Hui


Buy Now

Li Hui《No Word From Above》



Full Product Details:

  • Year of Publication: 2017年
  • Size: 21cm x 14cm
  • Number of Pages: 72
  • Paper: 170gsm fine art paper
  • Print Quantity: Limited edition of 500 copies
  • Each book is numbered and signed
  • Price: 37 USD


  • 出版年份: 2017年
  • 尺寸: 21 x 14 厘米
  • 页数: 72
  • 纸张: 170gsm 新伯爵纸
  • 发行量: 限量500本
  • 每本独立编号亲笔签名
  • 价格: ¥ 168 RMB

Instagram: @huiuh_


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao

网站: www.huiuh.com
Instagram: @huiuh_


供稿人: George Zhi Zhao

Phallic Thoughts

Multimedia artist Chronos Huang is a Hangzhou-based illustrator, poet, and the co-founder of Sensecue, a brand that’s known for their quirky pin designs. His work has been featured in Apportfolio Vol. 3, a publication that’s dedicated to promoting emerging young artists of Asia. As a poet, Huang often explores themes of intergalactic travel, animal life, and masculinity. In his standalone illustrative works, it’s a deep dive into his fantasies, often strange, erotic, and populated with phalluses. See more of his work below.

居住于杭州的跨界艺术家Chronos Huang是一位插画师和诗人,不僅如此他同时也是三时七有工作室的联合创始人。三时七有是一个以各种古怪胸针而闻名的品牌。作為三時七有的創始人,Chronos的作品曾入选《亚洲青年创作集录Vol.3》(一个致力于促进亚洲新兴青年艺术的出版物)。在他的诗里有宇宙、动物与男孩儿们的样子,而他的画里也常常伴随着那些奇幻、色情与性器官组成的幻想。

WeChat: 三时七有sensecue
Taobao: 三时七有


Contributor: Shou Xing

微信: 三时七有sensecue
淘宝: 三时七有


供稿人: Shou Xing

I Wish You Be Cooler



Whether he’s rocking an oversized sweatshirt or an orange sportswear set, one thing’s for certain – this little boy’s got style. At first glance, you might think he’s some celebrity child or the heir to a fashion empire, but in reality, he’s just an ordinary five-year-old boy from Hangzhou named yoyo. His mother tells us about him being a fashion icon: “Children grow up so quickly, so we just wanted to document more of yoyo’s life as he matures. It all started when I randomly dressed him up in my shirt and his father’s pants. Because the pants were way too big, I used shoelaces as a belt, and the outfit came out looking unexpectedly great. yoyo’s father thought it was cute too, so we snapped a photo of it.”


In the beginning, yoyo’s parents would post pictures of their child on social media just like any ordinary parents, but yoyo’s unique style and charm quickly attracted a large following. Neocha recently had the opportunity to shoot a video with this young fashion icon. On the day of the shoot, yoyo’s mother styled him with a tape measure for a belt and a pair of large adult men’s jeans. She tells us, “Sometimes yoyo feels like the clothes aren’t comfortable, so he’ll take them off himself, but most of the time he loves wearing oversized stuff.” yoyo’s parents describe their family’s fashion situation as so: if they buy a large-sized item, all of them can wear it. The item will fit perfectly on yoyo’s father, it will be a relaxed, casual fit on yoyo’s mother, and a super-oversized fit on yoyo. For them, this kind of arrangement is both economical and environmental.

最初只是普通的社交网络晒娃,但yoyo独特的穿衣风格和超强镜头感立即吸引了大批粉丝。最近,Neocha去到杭州会见这位小潮神,视频拍摄日当天,更是见证Yo妈用一条皮尺当成腰带为yoyo穿上了一件成人大号男士牛仔裤。有时yoyo觉得衣服不舒服,他就会自己脱掉,但是大部分时间yoyo还是很享受穿上这些oversize服装的。” yoyo爸妈和我们分享的时尚经是:我们买一件L号的衣服可以三个人穿,yo爸穿正好,yo妈穿是宽松休闲风,yoyo穿上就是现在大热的超级oversize超长袖风格,这种方法环保又经济。

When people see yoyo’s photographs, they’ll often assume that there’s an entire production team working to create these images. But the reality is that everything is produced by yoyo’s father, who set up a makeshift photo studio in their rented apartment (with just a stand to hold up a colored backdrop). Sometimes they’ll do a photoshoot outside when they take yoyo out to play on the weekends. They won’t use any professional equipment – all they use is a phone or a simple digital camera. yoyo’s father works as a designer, so he likes to add different graphic elements to yoyo’s photographs in post-production. The unique, vintage feel of the photographs caught the attention of German fashion magazine Coeval, which introduced yoyo to new fans outside of China.


yoyo’s wardrobe is handled by his mother, who never had any formal fashion training. Instead, she follows her intuitive fashion sense to put together yoyo’s outfits. But one unexpected member of yoyo’s team is his grandmother. “Sometimes we’ll see a clothing item in a magazine that we like, but we won’t know where to buy it, or we don’t want to spend too much money, so sometimes yoyo’s grandmother will just make it for us.” For example, the orange sportswear set was tailored by yoyo’s grandmother. Although the handiwork might not be up to the standard of a professional tailor, one thing’s for sure – each of yoyo’s outfits is definitely made with lots of love.

yoyo的造型则由妈妈负责,yo妈并没有学过服装搭配,只是根据自己的灵感和喜好把衣服穿到yoyo身上,不会经过太多的设计和思考。而打造时髦yoyo背后的另一位大功臣就是yoyo的奶奶。有时候我们在杂志看到喜欢的衣服不知道去哪里买,也不想花太多钱,奶奶就会帮yoyo做出来。” 像是那套经典的橙色运动套装,就是奶奶为yoyo量身定制的mini版潮服,虽说做工可能不如专业裁缝般精细,但yoyo的每套搭配背后都可以说是充满了家人满分的爱。

Besides being impressed by the fashion sense of yoyo’s entire household, another thing I was struck by during our shoot was the family’s laid-back attitude towards parenting. Both parents were never overbearing or overprotective – when snacks fell on the floor and yoyo ate them, they wouldn’t make a big fuss; if yoyo wanted to pick out his own outfit, they wouldn’t interfere (even if the grownups didn’t understand his sense of style); or when yoyo wanted to play and roll around on the dusty floor, they would let him. We always hear parents telling their children that if you aren’t obedient, I won’t buy you this or that or take you out to play. But yoyo’s mother has a different mindset – she hopes that yoyo won’t be too obedient, that he can still be a little rascal from time to time, as long as he’s happy and healthy. Perhaps it’s this free and unrestrained style of parenting that has allowed yoyo to become the cute and lovable child that you see in front of the lens today.


Weibo: ~/yoyoiscool


Videographer & Contributor: Ye Zi
Images Courtesy of @无敌宥先生

微博: ~/yoyoiscool


视频摄影师与供稿人: Ye Zi

Short Flashes

For most people, commuting through rainy weather is a dreadful thought. Traveling by bicycle or motorcycle in the rain is even worse: tires splash mud and grime onto your shoes and clothing, the road is slippery and dangerous, and water wreaks havoc on both bicycle and motorcycle parts alike. In the photo series Short Flashes by Wiktoria Wojciechowska, the Polish photographer manages to capture the utter misery of Chinese cyclists commuting in the rain.

对于大多数人来说,在阴雨天气上下班是一件很不愉快的事情。而在雨中骑自行车或摩托车就更糟糕了——轮胎溅起的泥浆和污垢会弄脏鞋子和衣服,路面变得湿滑危险,雨水还会侵蚀自行车和摩托车的配件。在摄影系列《Short Flashes》中,波兰摄影师Wiktoria Wojciechowsk,用镜头捕捉了中国人们在雨中出行时的痛苦。

Synonymous with rainy weather in China, the flamboyantly colored raincoats depicted in Short Flashes are an all-too-common sight in every Chinese city. But for Wojciechowska, who had never been to China prior to her moving to Hangzhou, these colorful cyclists immediately piqued her interest when she arrived. She began shooting the project as a means of curing the loneliness she experienced, and it also served as her personal method of connecting with a culture and people that she was still unfamiliar with.

在中国的各个城市,每逢下雨天,你总能在街上看到人们穿着色彩张扬的各式雨衣,骑着自行车穿梭于城市的大街小巷。而这个在中国很常见的场景,对于Wojciechowska这个初来乍到的外国人来说,却一点也不普通。Wojciechowska住在广州,但这也是她第一次踏足中国,所以这里对她来说依旧是一个非常陌生的环境。为了缓解一个异乡人的孤独感,以及拉近和这座陌生城市的距离,Wojciechowska选择拿起相机,开始了这个名为《Short Flashes》的摄影项目,记录着雨衣之下形形色色的人们。

Reminiscent of street photographer Bruce Gilden’s infamous technique of leaping out in front of strangers with his camera and a bright flash, Wojciechowska also used a flash for her candid portraits, but with an approach considerably less aggressive than Gilden’s. With her DSLR and speedlight, she would patiently wait on the side of the road until the right subject came along. The use of a speedlight and a slow shutter speed allowed Wojciechowska to both freeze each subject while still conveying a sense of movement. Like other talented photographers, Wojciechowska has ingeniously transformed the mundanities of daily life into an undeniably compelling photo series. In 2015, she won the Leica’s Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award for Short Flashes.

这一组照片让人想起街头摄影师Bruce Gilden那“臭名昭著”的摄影方式:突然跑在陌生人面前,用相机和耀眼的闪光灯拍下照片。同样地,Wojciechowska也是将热靴闪光灯直接对准了她的摄影对象,虽然她的方式没有Bruce Gilden那么“野蛮”——她会先将单反相机和闪光灯在路边架好,然后耐心等待合适的摄影对象出现。使用闪光灯和较慢的快门速度让她在清晰定格人物的同时,让照片营造出动感。一如其他才华横溢的摄影师,Wojciechowska巧妙地从日常生活的场景中捕捉到一系列出色的照片。2015 年,她凭借《Short Flashes》赢得了Leica Oskar Barnack Award 摄影奖。

One particular quote from Wiesław Myśliwski’s novel A Treatise on Shelling Beans resonated within Wojciechowska’s mind as she shot the project: “There are infinitely many of these faces I carry inside myself. Conceived in short flashes. I don’t know whose, where, or when. I know nothing about them. But they live in me. Thoughtfulness, gazes, sorrows, pallor, grimaces, bitterness – they live in me, detained like on photographies.” Short Flashes is available for purchase from independent publisher Bemojake.

当Wojciechowska 拍摄时,她的内心会想起Wiesław Myśliwski 小说《A Treatise on Shelling Beans》中的一句话:“在我的内心,存在着无数张面孔,就像是用闪光灯近距离拍下的人像照片。我不知道他们是谁,身在哪里,或是在什么时候。我对他们一无所知。但他们就存活在我的内心——他们的沉思、凝视、悲伤、苍白的面孔、鬼脸或是怨恨——他们就像照片一样,印在我的内心。”《Short Flashes》目前正在独立出版社Bemojake的网站发售。

Website: wiktoriawojciechowska.com


Contributor: David Yen



供稿人: David Yen

The Making of ALP Guitar



For years, China has established itself as the manufacturing mecca of the world. The words “Made in China” are almost guaranteed to be stamped on a product in your immediate vicinity while products that boast they’re designed in China are much more elusive. However, many creators in China are eager to make the distinction and prove that the Middle Kingdom is also a country of innovation. Among those committed to this task is ALP Guitar, a Hangzhou-based guitar brand who recently invited us to take a behind-the-scenes look at how their instruments, which are all proudly designed and manufactured in China, are made.

一直以来,中国被称为世界的制造中心。印有“中国制造”的产品几乎触手可及。但相比之下,号称由中国设计的产品却并不多见。然而,在中国的许多创作者都渴望能改变这一现状,证明中国也是一个具有创新精神的国家。而ALP 吉他正是其中一员。这一个总部位于杭州的吉他品牌最近邀请我们进入他们的制作后台,看看他们的乐器是怎么做出来的。

All of ALP Guitar’s products have one unifying trait: portability. Although there are existing Western brands that sell portable guitars, they mostly produce acoustic and classical guitars; options for high-quality, travel-friendly electric guitars are far and few and ALP aimed to fill this niche back in 2015. Despite being highly portable, their ingenious design doesn’t compromise the functionality or playability of the instrument. The smart designs features a headless neck and collapsible body, but still retains many functions normally reserved for regular-sized guitars, such as their inclusion of a vibrato system. In addition, the foldable and adjustable body allows musicians to hold it at a height that they can comfortably strum. “Our mission is for music to be easily accessible and taken anywhere you go,” says Lin Zunyi, the founder of ALP Guitar. “We want our brand and instruments to embody the passion for music.”

所有的 ALP 吉他都有一个特质——便携性。虽然现在也有欧美品牌制作便携式的吉他,但它们大多只生产原声吉他和古典吉他;而高品质的便携电吉他的选择则少之又少,而 ALP 吉他早在2015年就立志要填补这一部分的市场。ALP 吉他不仅十分便捷,同时通过巧妙的设计,确保了吉他的表现或手感。ALP 吉他采用无头琴颈和折叠式琴体的巧妙设计,保留了颤音系统等常规吉他的许多功能。此外,折叠式和可调节的琴体允许弹奏者把吉他放在自己舒适的高度进行弹奏。ALP吉他的创始人林遵义说:“我们的使命是让音乐随手可及,跟着你去往任何地方。我们希望我们的品牌和吉他能体现出对音乐的热情。”

Although ALP Guitar was officially launched in 2015, the first iteration of their portable guitar was actually completed in 1998 by Zunyi’s father – the idea was unfortunately scrapped at the time due to technological and financial limitations. After his father’s retirement in 2013, the idea was revived and brought to life. It was unveiled in the same year at Shanghai’s Music China, a music instrument trade expo dubbed as the largest in Asia.“At the time, our product was actually still quite rough and difficult to pluck,” Zunyi recalls. “But my father was adamant in showing it to the public. To our surprise, many people took notice and expressed interest. The overwhelming support motivated us to continue and to refine the guitar.”


Following the positive reception at the trade show, they launched a successful crowdfunding campaign on Taobao Zhongchou and were subsequently invited to participate in the Taobao Maker Festival. They’ve now also expanded beyond their initial focus on electric guitars, currently boasting nine different products of four different models, including a bass guitar and a classical guitar, all of which employ similarly ingenious foldable designs. Looking over one of their newly packaged guitars, Zunyi says, “Eventually, we hope that people’s preconceived notions of Chinese products being inferior can be dispelled.”


Website: alpguitars.com


Contributors: Leon Yan, David Yen
Videographer & Photographer: Leon Yan



供稿人: Leon YanDavid Yen
视频摄影师与图片摄影师: Leon Yan

Finding Beauty in Imperfection

For many people in China, porcelain is a familiar part of life, commonly seen and used on a day-to-day basis. But paradoxically, porcelain can also be thought of as an unfamiliar material, in the sense that many people know next to nothing about it. Despite the nickname ciguo, which translates into “country of porcelain,” most people in China don’t fully understand the beautiful intricacies of ceramics and the meticulous creation process. Enter Chifengge, a Hangzhou-based pottery studio that specializes in wood-fired ceramic wares, working tirelessly to perfect this underappreciated craft. Founded by three young ceramics enthusiasts, the studio has been producing a varied assortment of earthenware since 2014—each creation uniquely different from the last.


The studio is the brainchild of Yuan Cunze, Xu Chaoqi and Han Min, who all graduated from the China Academy of Art in 2013. Having graduated with a fine arts degree in ceramic design, the trio, like many of their peers, felt apprehensive about the future. Unlike other design-related majors, finding a stable career relevant to their field is considerably more difficult. Many of their fellow graduates chose to continue on to graduate school, switch career paths entirely, or pursue higher education overseas. After exploring their options over the course of a year, the three finally made the decision to start their own studio.


The chifeng in their studio’s name means red maple in Chinese, a tree known for its vibrant red leaves during autumn, and alludes to Chifengge’s approach of using wood rather than commonly seen modern pottery firing methods. Nowadays, electric-powered kilns are preferred for their convenience and ease. But even in the past, using wood for the firing process wasn’t the norm; the inconsistent results from ashes and scorch marks were thought of as flaws. However, the recent resurgence of interest in wood-fired ceramics is revealing of society’s ever-changing taste and how the definition of beauty has broadened over time.


The scorch marks and glazed ashes of wood-fired pottery are central to the creation process in modern times. Many different factors affect the outcome when using a wood-firing technique. The speed that wood is added during the process, weather conditions, and the kiln’s flow of air can all drastically affect how the creation turns out in the end. The final appearance of a wood-fired ceramic creation tells an unabashedly revealing story of the entire creation process, a story of its own birth laid out in plain view for all to see. Every scorch mark and layer of ash from the firing process adds unique characteristics to each piece of pottery and are considered as beautiful additions, rather than flaws.


Success stories of young people rolling up their sleeves and building something out of nothing are becoming more and more commonplace nowadays. But when I asked about how they planned to make money in the beginning, Han Min told me: “If we wanted to earn money, we would have used an electric kiln instead. Before we started this, we never thought about how to turn this into a business. The only thoughts that crossed our minds were on how can we make the best wood-fired pottery.” Coming from a design background myself, hearing such an earnest answer that focuses on creativity over profit, made me feel that much more hopeful about the future.


Dongjia: ~/chifengge
: han15868835868


Contributor: Shou Xing
Images Courtesy of Chifengge

: han15868835868


供稿人: Shou Xing

Zhongshuge by X+Living

The award-winning Shanghai-based design firm X+Living was commissioned to design book retailer Zhongshuge’s Hangzhou and Yangzhou branch this year. The Hangzhou location was unveiled in April, while the Yangzhou location opened to the public just earlier this month. X+Living approached the Hangzhou location with the ambitious mindset of wanting to design the most beautiful bookstore in the world. As for the Yangzhou Zhongshuge store, X+Living focused instead on tying together the region’s surrounding geography and its cultural history with their design concepts.


Located within Star Avenue, a bustling commercial center in the Binjiang district, the Hangzhou Zhongshuge greets visitors with a rather simple glass facade. The transparent glass is covered with text and reveals a pure white space inside the store. Once inside, impressive circular pillars are found throughout the lobby, each ascending up to the mirrored ceiling. Bookshelves are integrated into every pillar. A doorway takes visitors out of this surreal white space and brings them into the main hall. The main hall is a quiet reading corridor, and the walls consist of dark wooden bookshelves that extend down the hallway. This area has the identical mirrored ceiling as the previous area, but rather than bright florescent white lights, amber-colored chandeliers hang overhead and provides a soothing glow through the hall. Further down the hall is the main study, a breathtaking oval room where the stairs double as bookshelves and the same mirrored ceiling overhead doubles the size of the already astonishing room. This space allows visitors to rest on the shelved steps and read. Strips of light beneath the shelves and bulbs overhead illuminate the space, but individual lamps are also situated throughout the room next to padded cushions, offering readers a comfortable reading experience.


For the Yangzhou Zhongshuge location, their design revolves around the concept of water and how it is considered as the “cradle of everything, and the breeding ground of culture”. Upon entering, visitors will find themselves in a tunnel with a black reflective ground and bookshelves that curve upwards into a beautiful arc. But instead of the two sides meeting on the ceiling, a zig-zag shaped lightning bolt cuts through overhead; it reflects on the ground and forms a flowing river that beckons visitors to follow it deeper into the space. Venturing inwards, visitors will find themselves in the lobby and main reading room. These two spaces both use dramatic curving arches to support and connect one another, and these curving pillars and walls also form coves of books throughout the space. The recurring appearances of these arcs and curved arches in the space is meant to represent bridges over water, which is an analogy for bridging the minds of readers with the knowledge contained in books. Soft light illuminates the space and fills with it peaceful ambience, even this is a carefully thought-out design element that is meant to invoke images of a river sparkling in the sun.


Both of these bookstores also feature dedicated children’s reading rooms. The children’s rooms in both locations are vastly different from the rest of the store, but both give off an infectiously playful energy. The Hangzhou location is designed just like a playground, with the bookshelves emulating merry-go-rounds, hot air balloons, roller coasters, and even pirate ships. In the Yangzhou children’s room, the bookshelves are built like colorful, disassembled toy blocks. Countless stars twinkle overhead. Both locations are constructed to spark the imagination of children and adults alike.


Both of the new Zhongshuge locations are awe-inspiring spaces that are sure to captivate both readers and design lovers. The next time you are in Yangzhou or Hangzhou, be sure to make some time in your schedule and check them out!



Hangzhou Branch
Xingguang Avenue Pedestrian Street, Building 4-101
Binjiang District, Hangzhou
People’s Republic of China

Yangzhou Branch
492 Wenchang Middle Street
Guangling District, Yangzhou
People’s Republic of China


: ~/zhongshuge


中国 杭州市 滨江区


中国 扬州市 广陵区



Contributor: David Yen
Photographer: Shao Feng
Images Courtesy of X+Living

供稿人: David Yen
摄影师: 邵峰

“Gosh” by Jamie XX



China has often been associated with shanzhai counterfeit culture, from brand name apparels to electronic gadgets. But it is not just consumer goods being copied, even cities are vulnerable when it comes to Chinese cloning. As odd as it might seem to replicate an entire city, it is actually a common practice in China that can be traced all the way back to the Qin dynasty where the emperor would commission replicas of conquered palaces. On the outskirts of Beijing, there is a replica of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; in Guangdong, there’s an entire fake Austrian village; and then there’s Tianducheng, a town located in the suburbs of Hangzhou, which has a scaled-down replica of Paris, complete with Parisian architecture and even a 354-foot high Eiffel Tower.

从名牌服装到电子产品,中国的山寨文化随处可见。但不仅仅是仿冒消费品,这股风潮还影响到中国的城市建设。在西方要复制一个城市这听上去是个非常怪诞的想法,但是在中国并不是什么新鲜事,其实早在秦朝,中国就有这样的先例,在那个时候,帝王就会下令复制出其征服的地方。在北京一郊区,有个完全模仿美国怀俄明州的小镇—— 杰克逊霍尔;广东有个村庄完整地复制了澳大利亚的乡村风格;杭州的市郊有一个迷你版的巴黎——天都城,这里不仅模仿了巴黎的建筑风格,甚至还修建了354英尺高的“埃菲尔铁塔”。

For Jamie XX’s “Gosh”, filmmaker Romain Gavras chose this faux Paris to be the backdrop for his music video. The video starts in a dark neon-lit room where an albino protagonist, played by Hassan Kone, lays on a large couch lost deep in his thoughts. Surrounding him on the couches are people wearing glowing goggles, seemingly immersed in virtual reality. The pace quickly ramps up as the video drops viewers in the middle of a clone of Paris and Jamie XX’s minimalistic electro sounds begin kicking into gear. Dressed in all white, the protagonist races down the street in a Subaru driven by a man in a mask, riding with his entourage.

Jamie XX单曲《Gosh》的MV由Romain Gavras执导,他选了这个复制版巴黎城为背景。MV在一个霓虹闪烁的昏暗房间拉开序幕,由Hassan Kone扮演的白化病男主角躺在一个大沙发上,陷入沉思。在他的周围,沙发上还围着一群带着亮眼护目镜的人,在虚拟世界中如梦似幻。随着MV中带着观众空投城市中心场景,节奏加快,Jamie XX极简化的电子音效开始进入指令式的重复。一身白装的的男主,带着他的随从,在一个面具男开车的Subaru车里沿着街道狂奔。

At the same time, hundreds of Chinese children in identical clothing and hair color are dashing through the empty streets. All of them moving with purpose as they close in on the replica of the Eiffel Tower looming ominously in the distance. The horde of doppelgänger children finally converges on the protagonist at the base of the tower where they begin orbiting him in a synchronized dance as his entourage looks on. The bizarre and dystopian vibes are reminiscent of the director’s earlier work for Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” and Justice’s “Stress”. Gavras’ impressive video involved a cast of 400 people and was shot without the use of CGI or 3D effects. Jamie XX’s In Colour album is available for purchase on his official website.

同时,数百个穿着相同的衣服,留着相同的发型的中国孩子,在空荡荡的街道,朝着复制版埃菲尔铁塔列步前进,建筑在远处或隐或现,诡异而不详。这一群幽灵般的少年最终在埃菲尔铁塔下将男主包围,以整齐划一的轨道围着他,男主的随从就在不远处静静观望。该古怪而带着反乌托邦式的MV风格让人想起导演早期的作品,如Kanye West的《No Church in the Wild》和Justice的《Stress》。整个MV个性十足,动用了400名群演,全程没有一个镜头使用CG或3D效果。Jamie XX的专辑《In Colour》可以在他的官网上购买。

Neocha Selects is a curated selection of some of the most inspiring and innovative video content from Asia. To see more stories like this, click here. To see original Neocha videos, click here.

Neocha Selects为来自亚洲地区内最具启发性和革新性的视频内容精选。查看更多类似文章,请点击此处。查看Neocha原创视频,请点击此处

Soundcloud: ~/jamie-xx-official
Vimeo: ~/gavras


Contributor: David Yen
Video & Images Courtesy of Romain Gavras


Soundcloud: ~/jamie-xx-official
Vimeo: ~/gavras


供稿人: David Yen
视频和图片由Romain Gavras提供

Viberoom Hangzhou



Viberoom is a music and nightlife event label founded by Hangzhou native DJ D’Rocc, a veteran who’s been involved the local hip-hop scene for the last 15 years, beginning with breakdancing before transitioning into DJing and organizing parties. Against the cultural backdrop of the historic city of Hangzhou, D’Rocc now brings a unique perspective by combining his understanding of traditional Chinese culture and philosophy with his respect for the origins and legacy of hip-hop. Viberoom frequently organizes nightlife events in and around the city of Hangzhou. Neocha spoke to D’Rocc about his thoughts on music, culture, and society.

Viberoom是个音乐和夜生活品牌,由杭州本土DJ D’Rocc创办。他是位拥有15年玩龄的hip-hop文化老玩家,在做DJ和组织活动派对之前, D’Rocc最初以跳街舞开始。有悖于杭州这座历史名城的文化背景,通过融合他对中国传统文化的理解,以及对hip-hop起源和传统的尊重,D’Rocc带来了一个独特的视角。Viberoom时常在杭州内外组织夜生活活动。NeochaD’Rocc就后者在音乐、文化和社会上的一些想法进行了一番对话。

Neocha: How did you get started as a DJ?

D’Rocc: When I was breakdancing, I would enter a lot of competitions, but I was never satisfied with the music there. I felt that there weren’t any good DJs in China – the music they played didn’t have emotion. It didn’t let the dancers fully express themselves, and it didn’t create a party vibe. So I would watch a lot of old hip-hop videos, and that led to me understanding the most important part of a party was the vibe. If you knew how to control the vibe, then people would have more fun, and you can host better parties and events. Personally, I’ve had the experience of listening to a song, and just by listening I’ll feel more conscious and inspired, then I’ll want to share this listening experience with others.

Neocha: 你最早是怎么开始做DJ?

D’Rocc: 以前跳的时候,我已经开始参加很多街舞比赛,在那些地方已经开始对音乐不满意,感觉那时候国内没什么好的DJ。他们放的音乐,没有很多情绪去推动,去让舞者发挥得更好,让整个气氛更像一个party。我一直看很多很多老的视频,能感觉到里面内容主要是在于整个气氛。然后如果你能调节整个气氛的话,可能这个活动,可能大家会玩得更开心,更好。我之前听到过很多好听的音乐,听了之后感觉,哇,有所启发,感觉自己变聪敏一点了。我希望让这个音乐都能被大家听到。

Neocha: Where did the inspiration for Viberoom come from?

D’Rocc: Viberoom was definitely inspired by a lot of foreign music brands and collectives. I felt that Hangzhou also really needed a space that was just for music. Before, we had an actual Viberoom space here, but now we primarily do events in different places. “Vibe” represents a kind of mood or atmosphere – a state of mind that people can sync into together. The roots of Viberoom are hip-hop, turntables, records, and sharing music. Viberoom isn’t loud, or so in your face. It is a very chill place that’s suitable for a city like Hangzhou. We need a space that’s suited to the slow and relaxed atmosphere of Hangzhou – one that allows us to uplift ourselves through a more positive lifestyle.

Neocha: Viberoom的概念是从哪儿来的?

D’Rocc: Viberoom的概念肯定是受国外的一些音乐厂牌的影响,是有这样的一个启发。但是,我觉得杭州这个城市很需要一个房间,一个音乐的房间。之前我们有一家实体店,现在主要是在不同的地方做活动。Vibe的意思就是一种气氛、一种心情,大家达到了一种感觉。这种房间的roots就是hip-hop的一些roots,有唱片,有turntable,然后有人分享音乐。不管怎么样,不是一个很吵杂,很闹的环境,而是一个很安静、很chill的环境,也很适合杭州这样的一个环境。我们在杭州本身轻松舒缓的节奏中追求一个更好的生活方式。

Neocha: What is your definition of hip-hop?

D’Rocc: Hip-hop is now mainly just pop culture. Many young people across the globe are having fun with it, but I feel like most people are just blindly following a trend or fashion. Since there are so many flashy elements to it, a lot of people will be attracted to its surface appeal. In modern society, people might think that hip-hop is getting better because more and more people are aware of it. From my perspective, it’s lost a lot of its creativity, originality, and artistry. But, when I was younger, I also didn’t understand it completely. After being involved with hip-hop for many years, I realized that it was more about a kind of lifestyle. To me, this kind of lifestyle is uplifting, optimistic, and full of positive energy. It has a spiritual side. It’s like in skateboarding, when you fall off the board, you want to get back on again because you want to improve and transcend yourself.

Neocha: 你对hip-hop的定义是什么?

D’Rocc: Hip-hop给我的感觉就是流行文化吧。全世界的年轻人都在玩,但我觉得大部分是在盲目地追求这个潮流、这个现象吧。因为这里面有太多先锋的事物、想法,所以很多年轻人想去感受这种东西吧。整个社会都认为hip-hop文化越来越好,因为大家都接受了,但是它其实失去了一些很艺术性、很原创性的东西。


Neocha: What are your thoughts on the future development of Chinese society?

D’Rocc: I feel like a civilized Chinese society will be like this: the architecture and culture will always preserve the best things from Chinese civilization and history, but these traditional elements will be incorporated into a modern technological lifestyle. This kind of culture will be very uplifting for Chinese society. Before, I’ve heard Jack Ma say this as well, that what a Chinese education lacks the most in is music, art, and athletics. When I was growing up, I felt the same way, and that most of the things I learned in school were useless. The Chinese education system is designed to create robots and obedient people. Of course, this society needs regulations, but from a far-sighted perspective, I don’t think that it’s the best way.

Neocha: 你对于中国社会未来的发展是怎么看待的?

D’Rocc: 我觉得如果是一个有文化的国家会变成这样子:所有的建筑、所有的文化都一直保留着中国最好的东西的感觉,可是这些都是融入到现代生活当中,全部都是跟世界平行的。这样的生活方式会提高中国人。因为之前看到马云也在说的,中国教育最缺少的就是音乐、美术和运动。我自己一路过来也是这种感觉。基本上,学校教的东西都是没用的,它只是把你培养成一个机器人,或者一个服从者。当然,这个社会需要有一些规则吧。但是我个人认为,从长远来看,这并不是一个非常好的现象。

Website: soulkingz.lofter.com


Contributor & Videographer: George Zhi Zhao
Images Courtesy of D’Rocc
Archive Video Footage from Born Invincible (1978), Game of Death (1978), Style Wars (1983), k-os – The Love Song (2006), Detours: An Experimental Dance Collaboration

网站: soulkingz.lofter.com


供稿人与视频摄影师: George Zhi Zhao
档案素材来自 Born Invincible (1978), Game of Death (1978), Style Wars (1983), k-os – The Love Song (2006), Detours: An Experimental Dance Collaboration