ROUGE: an exploration of traditional and contemporary chinese decorative motifs in the home

ROUGE is a place of discovery, where you can find rustic vintage and contemporary furniture from Northern China, handmade ceramics, luxurious home textiles and a diverse range of decorative interior accessories. Fashion designer turned shopkeeper Lei Yang sources the handmade pieces on regular travels to her native China, and other far Eastern countries. Because the direct import saves them the cost of a distributor, they can offer their reconditioned vintage Chinese furniture at a lower price than you are likely to find elsewhere in the UK. British and European homewares with a contemporary artisan appeal complement ROUGE’s oriental collection.

Since it opened in 2005, ROUGE has become a communal hub in Stoke Newington and runs events and pop ups centred on oriental culture, traveling, food and crafts. For this year’s London Design Festival they are curating an exhibition ‘Exploration of Traditional and Contemporary Decorative Chinese Motifs in the Home’ at ROUGE. To find out more about this fascinating exhibition, Lei Yang explains:

rouge_ldf2016_hero_imageChinese decorative motifs have symbolic meanings, which are refined or augmented through combinations of motifs. An interesting example is the painting on the above ‘Tiger Cabinet’ from Gansu province that was made in the 1920s. The tiger, seen as a ferocious animal of great courage, is a traditional symbol of strength and protection. The combination with a bamboo grove adds a connotation of ‘endurance’. In a religious context, tigers are also associated with wealth (Chinese Art by P.B. Welch, 2008). Accordingly, the decorative motifs of the painting build up into a nuanced blessing, which it is intriguing to decipher.

As we were considering the cultural context in which this painting was originally made and within which its symbolic visual message would have been clearly understood, we also began to wonder how the decorative motifs on rustic furniture from Northern China have evolved with social and cultural changes over the past 150 years. (The vintage furniture at ROUGE is usually between 60 to 150 years old and we also have newer rustic pieces, made from salvaged or new materials, using and adapting the traditional furniture making and painting techniques of Northern China.)

Exploring the decorative motifs across the functional interior design pieces and homewares at ROUGE, we noticed that certain motifs, which are common on furniture, do not feature on the handmade contemporary ceramics from Jingdezhen. This led us to widen our focus to include also functional everyday ceramics.

logoWe are looking forward to sharing our discoveries with the visitors of the London Design Festival in September. As part of the exhibition we will run a creative workshop on Sunday, 18th, 11am-1pm, and we will also give a talk on Tuesday, 20th, 6.30pm, followed by a drinks reception. The exhibition is open during our normal opening hours, Tue – Sat: 11am – 6.30pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm.

Both, the workshop and the talk are free but registration is required.
To register for the workshop click this link:
to register for the talk, click this link:

If you have any questions about the events, please email or call on 0207 275 0887.