An old saying goes in the Ming dynasty that the nationals adore craftsmen from Suzhou for their being good at making utensils. The Suzhou style furniture in the Ming dynasty was well-known for its simplicity and conciseness. Usually the literatir would play a role in the design. The furtinure displayed a kind of natural beauty with lustre and texture of the log. Just as another saying goes, the furniture should conform with its standards and take the designated position, both refined and ingenious. The Ming style furniture, unadorned, manifests the craftsmen’s high skills and literati’s aesthetics.
When it came to the mid-Qing dynasty, the furniture became more magnificent and sophisticated. Distinguished from the antiquity and refinedness of the Ming style, it looked more grave and dignified in structure with a big frame, extravagant decorations, vivid motifs, inlays with different valuable materials, while decoration with gold or silver powder or colored paintings can also sometimes be seen.
On the basis of traditional design, the neo-Ming style furniture tries to integrate elements of contemporary times and fit in daily life. It intends to combine practical use with appreciation for beauty, with an emphasis on comfort and function. On the one hand, it strives to be artistic, and on the other, it fixes an eye on how to make people feel comfortable while seated. The design also reveals people’s craving for a simple life nowadays that they would like to live a reclusive life as people in ancient times.
Mr. Song Weidong, who grew up in Suzhou and has been influenced by Suzhou handicrafts since childhood, gradually develops an affection towards making furniture. Devoted to his career for over thirty years, he inherits and develops the quitessence of Suzhou style furniture, that is, to showcase the finess typical of furniture in Jiangnan area and the grace typical of tradinitional Chinese furniture with precious Southeast Asia woods and making them into top furniture modelled after antiquity.
Sincere thanks go to Mr. Song Weidong for his donation of two works, which enriches our collections.
Director of Suzhou Museum