You’ve probably visited a vintage store at one point in your life – it’s often a small space filled with an array of items from different countries and periods of time. But in Shanghai’s French Concession, hidden beneath the leafy canopy of Julu road, lies a specialty vintage shop called ViSH. This store carries a a tightly curated collection of Scandinavian-designed products that exude elegance through simplicity. The store’s entire atmosphere breeds a sense of nostalgia and longing for simpler times. Neocha recently had the chance to speak with Annie, one of the founders of of ViSH, to find out more about her vision and what motivated her to open this unique store.
Neocha: How did the name ViSH come about and when did the store open?
Annie: ViSH opened in 2012. The name ViSH is basically composed with two single words. The “Vi” comes from the word “vintage,” and “SH” comes from the word Shanghai. Initially, the store only had a Chinese name called Shiyan Shanghai (Experiment Shanghai). But because of more and more media coverage, we were repeatedly asked for our English name. So we decided to combine the words “vintage” and “Shanghai”.
Neocha: What is the concept behind ViSH? What inspired you to open a vintage store in the first place?
Annie: The vintage scene started becoming popular in Shanghai in 2012, so that’s why we opened the shop. Our store is actually one of the first places in Shanghai to sell products with a focus on Scandinavian aesthetics. Even prior to opening the shop, our home was furnished with a lot of vintage things. Truth be told, I loved the aesthetics of contemporary designs when I was younger. But due to financial reasons, I would often find myself in thrift shops, and that led me to the world of vintage items. Unexpectedly, I became more and more fascinated by them. I actually used to be working in a design company. When we opened this shop I guess it just felt like the right time. There weren’t many places to get what we’re selling at the time, so it felt like that there was a great demand and a void in the market. When friends would visit my house and see how the space was furnished, they always seemed to like it. So I felt like there was an opportunity for me to share these beautiful things with others.
Neocha: How do you curate your selection of vintage wares? Which areas around the world are you mainly obtaining your products?
Annie: As you can see, most of our merchandise are Scandinavia designed. It’s because I’m quite fond of designs from Denmark, Finland and Sweden. From the 1950s to 1960s, Scandinavian designs were considered to be some of the best. With their material and color usage, Scandinavian designs were considered to best represent the ‘modern aesthetics’ of the era. Besides their coloring choices, Scandinavian designs were also known for their simplicity. This is why we painted the walls of our shop so vibrantly. Honestly, there are so many vintage stores in Shanghai and everyone has their own style. We just want to create a modern and colorful space.
Neocha: What is it about these areas of the world makes you gravitate towards them to stock your shop?
Annie: Even though Scandinavian designs are simple, you can find many details in the simplicity. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was shift in mentality, and people had emphasis on lifestyle. On top of that, the region has is rather nature in terms of geography and climate. The winters are extremely long and people will spend most of their time at home. This in turn led to a demand to meet higher lifestyle expectations.
So that’s why the majority of our products are from the Scandinavian region. Of course, a small portion of our products are also from Germany and America. We only pick products that we feel like would be a good fit for our store. For example, we might like Rococo-style designs, but a piece like that wouldn’t easily work in someone’s house. As you can see, our selection of products lean towards a more contemporary Scandinavian style that can be easily integrated into people’s homes. People can easily purchase one or two items, and not necessarily buy an entire collection of matching items. We place a lot of importance on quality. So consumers can easily buy something, bring it home, and immediately use it.
Neocha: ‘Vintage is the new modern.’ Can you tell us more about this concept?
Annie: In my opinion, the phrase ‘vintage is new modern’ is about incorporating vintage aesthetics in our modern life. You can find links between modern designs and classic designs from so many contemporary designers. I also consider Scandinavian designs from the 1950s and 1960s to still be fantastic to this day.
Neocha: 可以深入谈谈“vintage is the new modern”这一概念吗？
Annie: 我认为“vintage is new modern”就是把复古带到现在的生活中。当下很多设计，包括大品牌的设计，都可以看到以前经典设计的影子。所以，50-60年代的斯堪的纳维亚设计，就当下你看到的很多设计，尤其是家具和家居设计来说，它的家具设计依旧是非常棒的。
Neocha: What do you do to set yourself apart from the other stores that are similar to yours in Shanghai?
Annie: There are actually so many different vintage stores in Shanghai, and they are all quite different from one another. Our store stubbornly follows our own rules. We don’t want to just follow trends. We just want to collect vintage things we like. As a result, what we sell in our store are things we adore rather than keep up with trends. Therefore, I consider a distinct characteristic of our store to be our insistence to keep only selling what we like. So when people see these items in different places – no matter private homes or public spaces, they can easily spot they originated from ViSH. We hope we can be trendsetters, rather than simply blindly chasing trends.
Annie: 其实在上海，大大小小不同的中古商店非常多。当然大家有自己不同的风格。我们的店一直坚持只做自己，不追风，不跟潮流走，永远只淘自己喜欢的东西。我们出售的东西，都是因为我们自己喜欢才淘回来的，而不是积极去迎合市场，大家流行什么就去买什么卖什么东西。因此我们的店便有了自己的一些特色在里面，便是我们坚持只做自己喜欢的东西。所以当大家在很多地方——无论是朋友家抑或是公共场合，看到我们的东西都能一眼认出来，“哦，这是来自ViSH实验上海的东西 ”。我们希望能够做到拥有这种标志性，而不是去盲目地跟风他人。
Neocha: Tell us a couple of your favorite products of all time. Which are some of your favorites you’re currently carrying in store? Why are these your favorites?
Annie: To be honest, I love everything in the store. I’m motivated to want bring these things to Shanghai and share them with others because I’m truly passionate about it. So I hope my customers can be people who really know and appreciate vintage designs. They can provide these items a new home. Rather than seeing our products as a mere consumer good, we want our customers to be people that can cherish these items and pass them down to their offsprings for generations to come. We’ve became friends with a lot of like-minded people since the store opened. In our shop, a small portion of items aren’t actually for sale. There are things you simply can’t buy with money. Some vintage items are quite rare and you might not have a chance to come across them again. Great things are harder and harder to come by – so that’s why some of our things aren’t for sale to the public. For example, I’m not willing to sell some of the things that I got from New York’s MoMA – I’d rather keep them for myself. But we’ll still display some of these things we consider to be priceless to visitors.
Neocha: Are there other projects on the horizon? What are your long-term plans for ViSH? Are there any particular products coming soon you’re particularly excited about?
Annie: Actually, new products are constantly added into our store. Every year, we travel out the country in search of future products. We even have a supplier in Denmark that provides us a steady supply. They help us find items that will be a good fit for our shop. As for the long term, I hope ViSH can become larger and have even more different products available. We want people to envision these items being a great fit for their homes when they browse our selection. Our shop is pretty small right now, so it’s hard to execute our concept. In the future, I hope to have a larger space. I want to put together a display kitchen, living room, and bedroom that consists of all vintage furnishings. There would also be a café in this same space with the same vintage theme. The chairs customers can sit on, the glassware, and so on would all be vintage. I hope I can spread this love of vintage things to more and more people.
Neocha: 之后还会上架哪些产品？ ViSH有什么长期计划？有没有一些你比较钟意并且特殊的产品即将上线？
Annie: 我们一只都有新的产品在上架，每年我自己会出去几次。甚至在丹麦也有我们的供应商，长期对我们供货，并根据我们的要求，去找我们喜欢的东西。至于ViSH的未来，我们当然想有一个很大的展示空间，设置不同的场景，客厅、厨房、房间等。在这样的一个vintage展示厅，用场景展示给大家参考，这个东西我买来可以放在家里什么位置。现在店铺比较小，比较局促，没办法实现这种方式的展示，将来的话我想做得更全面一点。我的梦想是，在这个大空间种有个小的区域，做一个vintage咖啡。客人坐的凳子，用的杯子，都是vintage的东西， 我想把这种文化带给更多的人。