Sunday, January 3, 2010


A totally NYE unrelated post for you today, as I don't feel like revisiting 2009. Out with the old in with the new, like this totally awesome school gate near us.

Design-wise it's amazing. It's a classic example of the Chinese taking something western a little too literally, not understandi
ng the meaning and depth of in this case western idealistic depictions of 'fairy tale lands'. It reminded me of a hotel I passed in Beijing last time I was there. I've tried desperately to find a photo but can't. Essentially the hotel was a pretty basic looking one with some Roman-style pillars, a big marble lobby and gracing the driveway a huge copy of the Trevi Fountain, more normally found in Rome.

The Trevi Fountain -where it's supposed to be, in Rome.

Looking at it from a Western perspective you just go - well, no you can't just copy the Trevi Fountain. The whole point of it is that it's Baroque and has a deep cultural and specifically Italian meaning and history. The new version has no history or meaning it's merely a fake that means nothing to anyone. I've tried to think through the psychology of this many many times as it's something you see repeated throughout China, but so far I've never found any sort of real explanation for it.

The Chinese highlight of this phenomenon by the way has to be 'Window to the World' in Shenzhen. 130 reproductions of famous monuments from around the world, all in one theme park. It's just not the same really is it?

Although over all and especially in the case of the school gate, I bet the kids love it. Maybe we just take ourselves and our cultural history too seriously in the West.


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