It’s uncanny but beneath this wild and excessive composition there is a particular order or consistency. It takes time to discern because nothing is easy to see in here. Outsides bright and eye-squinting glare has been muted by the red curtains so that only random shards of light permeate the room. You need to allow your eyes time to adjust and be able to appreciate the scene. At first glance it looks like some kind of gaudy Gilbert & Sullivan chinoiserie; a hodgepodge of Oriental styles. Yet look closer and there is consistency in this chaos. Look closer still and you can discern what the 12th century Neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi called “Daoxue” or “Learning of the Way” – a philosophy that promoted an awareness of the past and the concerted investigation of phenomena to reach an understanding of the patterns and principles of the world around us. A golden bucolic lattice crosses the ceiling and travels down the sides of the walls morphing into two dragons. These two magnificent creatures frame a wall decorated with a repetitive and flowing cloud motif upon which hang a collection of artifacts. There is an ancient landscape painting from the Sung Dynasty; calligraphy documenting the Orchid Pavilion Gathering and a Jin Dynasty tapestry with the repetitive motif of a swan being attacked by a falcon.
My reverie is interrupted by a gurgling in my stomach. A loud burp erupts unannounced and the smells of sweet’n’sour pork mixed with prawn and a Tsing-tao waft through the air.
“Anything else?” The waiter asks.
“The beef in black bean, if you don’t mind.”
Mark Shorter is Runway’s Guest Blogger for Issue#27 OUTSIDE.