Inside the Shanghai Home of Han Feng

Min Chen Xuan / Courtesy of Han Feng / Toni Meneguzzo – GMAIMAGES / Block 2 Pictures – Photofest / Lara Kastner - Courtesy Alinea Restaurant / Nigel Young

The fashion designer has created a mixed-and-matched hideaway bursting with color and her own handmade creations.

Feather Light: “In 2008, a contemporary design show at the V&A in London included my fashion and bird creations. Afterward I was so inspired by the idea of a free bird that I started making these lanterns in the shape of a bird’s body, composed of silk and iron wire. A lot of people think it looks like a fish, but it isn’t!”

Interior Invention: “I crafted the lamp above the bed myself—inside it’s full of birds and monkeys and flowers. I feel as though I didn’t really have a childhood, so now I’m just having fun. I wake up and it’s a fantasy, like a baby mobile above a crib. I custom-made my bed to be elevated because I hate when people have a low bed that becomes full of dust and storage. I wanted mine to be clean and high, so high that I needed to create a matching wooden step to climb into it.”

DIY Decor: “I painted my bedroom pale blue to complement the cotton-velvet fabric that I found to cover the wall behind my headboard. The black border on the hardwood floor I also painted myself, and the artwork hanging on the wall was painted for me by an old friend and former classmate.”

Dual Worlds: “In 2008 I designed the costumes for The Bonesetter’s Daughter, an opera based on Amy Tan’s novel. This sketch was for the character of Ruth, a Chinese American woman. To me, not only because of her heritage but because of where she grew up as well, I felt the costume should have two sides: traditional and Chinese but also American and bright and optimistic.”

Sensory Feast: “Funnily enough, I love Grant Achatz’s Alinea. It’s one of my favorites—he’s full of surprises and magic. It’s not just about the food but also the whole experience of, yes, tasting—and seeing and smelling and listening.”

True Artist: “Wong Kar Wai makes such amazing films—In the Mood for Love has it all: beautiful people and costumes and a sense of mood that’s light, dark and beautiful.”

Creating Shade: “I bought a lamp on the street that I loved, but it was just so bright. I once threw a party for an Italian jeweler, and for that dinner I had the tablecloth printed with all these words. So I just threw that tablecloth on the lamp to dampen the light.”

Bold Leap: “Between the blue-green dining room and the white living room there was this little area that had four doors. When I moved in, I took the doors out completely, painting the walls yellow and putting in mirrors to expand the space. At first it was scary to commit to all the colors—what if I made a mistake?—but now I love it!”

Natural Beauty: “I snapped this photo of a pink lotus on the lake in Hangzhou. When you go there, you all of a sudden feel like you understand the inspiration behind Chinese calligraphy and watercolors.”

Ocean View: “I fell in love with Chinese artist Shi Zhiying’s ocean paintings and bought two of them, mounting them on the wall so that the horizon line connected. You can’t see it in the photo, but there’s a third photograph right next to it that’s actually a picture I took when I was in South Africa.”

Friendly Portrait: “The picture of me in the living room is by a very famous Chinese contemporary artist named Zhou Tiehai. We’d been friends for a long time, but I never collected any of his work because it was too expensive, and he told me, ‘Don’t buy it, I’ll make one for you.’ He’d been saying that for six or eight years, then one day he called and said the painting was ready to be picked up.”

Flying High:The Bonesetter’s Daughter included acrobats from the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe in China, who had to perform tricks in the air for the show, so I designed practical costumes for them—meaning jumpsuits—that were also dramatically covered in dyed chicken feathers.”

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