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Home Shanghai Attractions Shanghai Tianzifang

Shanghai Tianzifang Introduction


Tianzifang (田子坊) located on Taikang Road 210, Shanghai, which used to be a small alley in Dapuqiao Area. Before 1998, it just was a street fair. Since September, 1998, it was redesigned and rebuilt, and all the booths were put into the stores. And a special street construction was also operated. As for its name, it actually was a refined name that Huang Yongyu (黄永玉), a painter of Shanghai, gave this old alley area. In accordance with the historical record, Tianzifang used to be ancient painter of China, but it was not written as”田子坊” but “天子方”, both of which share the same tone . So in the aspect, the basic theme and atmosphere of this area have been fixed.

Tianzifang has a strong atmosphere of local resident’s life. In the alleys, the most highlighted part is the diverse cafes, apart from the creative stores, galleries and photographing displays. It is perfect site of Shanghai to enjoy a leisure and relaxed life after a weeklong work.

Shanghai Tianzifang Leisure Center   Shanghai Tianzifang Leisure Center   Shanghai Tianzifang Leisure Center

Walking down the narrow lane of Tianzifang at Taikang Road (Art Street), you will be forgiven for wondering if you were really in cosmopolitan Shanghai. At a glance, Taikang Road looks to be a mix of old and refurbished brick houses. However, do not be fooled by the traditional old lanes or wet clothes hanging on bamboo poles above your head. Taikang Road sure deserves a second look. These days, many artists and local designers have set up boutiques and laid- back cafés that have been drawing crowds of yuppies, fashionistas, designers and expatriates.

At the heart of Taikang Road are many art studios and galleries. This area has been home to many artists seeking a reprieve from the threat of demolition of artist's villages and communities by property developers in recent years. These studios which are mostly situated at Buildings 3 & 5, feature many contemporary works of design, painting and photography. There is no cover charge to view the works and you can always purchase any of the beautiful pieces created by the local artists in Shanghai. A long standing art center at lane 210 is Deke Erh Art Center, which was opened by Deke Erh himself. This influential art center holds his catalogue of published books on Shanghainese interior design and art decoration as well as Western architecture in Shanghai.

Then, there is the fusion of art spaces, such as Nuzi, a New Zealand design boutique. This shop which only opened in November 2007 has already attracted many professional interior designers and expatriates in Shanghai. The imported lithographic and photographic art works on display are combined with other offerings such as beautiful hand-crafted lamps created with thin wood pieces, pillows, household items and other inspiring furniture. You can also expect the unexpected in Vervia which imports clothes and lovely novelty items such as craft, jewelry and glassware, mostly from England, Italy and Iceland. It also houses widely known names like Joe Phat, ArTeA and Redstar. After you are done, you might want to swing by the café, hidden at the right of the shop for a drink or two.

Nestled amongst other home interior design shops is SHDecor, which unlike the others, fuses motifs from the East and West. Oriental patterns, charms and tassels are added to modern and bright, solid- colored dishes, candles, vases and fabrics. Hari Rabu, a home and lifestyle shop also offers many exclusive and exotic handicrafts, ceramics, candles, fabrics and furniture from Southeast Asia. Lastly, take a whiff of the indulgent and luring sweet scent of incense as you walk into Jo ma Arts in the evening. This shop which is about a year old, has a dazzling display of exquisite jewelry, lamps, pillows and fabrics all imported from Tibet, Nepal and India.

At the end of 2007 this place has also birthed a host of new boutiques carrying chic street garb for the fashion savvy, designer wear for the brand- conscious and cheongsams for the elegant. There is much to explore for shoppers as the boutiques here carry unique pieces by local designers and beckons all who long to have a piece of something that is not characteristically main-stream.

Do not leave without a visit to hotspots such as RouRou for Vietnamese- styled blouses and dresses, floral bags and knitted sweaters all designed and made in Japan. The pretty designer is Japanese, an ex-model who ventured into fashion design. There is also 2002HaiShang, which opened five years ago. An old-world aura hangs over this beautifully decorated two-level shop with a glass exterior. Designer Xu's exquisite and intricate Cheongsams, scarves and coats have designs that are one-of-a-kind and not available in flagship stores. Inside a quaint courtyard lies Iseya, a Kimono and hand- embroidered accessories shop that uses fabrics that reflect the “Japanese beauty of art”. The shop, which retails the traditional obi and Kimono, has recently launched a new brand-line a year ago, designing bags and purses using traditional Japanese patterns and designs. Local designer apparel la vie, designed by Jenny Ji, also has a shop here in Taikang Road. Another franchise store is ShirtFlag, which provides T-shirts with graphics and designs that takes a retrospective look at Chinese propaganda art and mixes it with modern cultural icons and pop culture references. Then there is Seven which lies along Taikang road. This clothes and accessories shop opened by Kikki and Bobo, two friendly Shanghainese jewelry crafters, carries an array of Australian and imported jewelry.

InSH which stands for “In SHanghai” also caught my eye. Situated at a corner, this shop is a breath of fresh air especially for those looking for alternative souvenirs and gifts to take home. Their products include uniquely printed T-shirt designs, bags, shoes, buttons, cards as well as stationary with the InSH logo design. Another shop called Few also offers to visitors both local and Australian handmade Gemstone jewelry and accessories. One interesting souvenir to take home would be this tie made from Zhuanghua Gauze with Gold-threaded Peacock Feather Dragon material. This fabric is a replication of the Emperor's Imperial Robe which Wanli Emperor of the Ming Dynasty wore. It took 5 years for replication with the resumption of the weaving technology of Zhuanghua gauze which had been lost for more than 300 years.

After all that shopping, you can unwind in the charmingly quaint cafeteria, Kommune, sip a latté, have Panini, surf the net and watch the world go by. For something more authentic, there are small but whimsical shops selling tea leaves and various designs of oriental tea sets and ornaments. Do head down to E.D.Tea and Mido if you are a collector of oriental tea pots or just to enjoy a cup of hot tea freshly brewed by the owner herself. As China is the home country of tea, your experience in China would not be complete without savoring a cup of Chinese tea. Like Chinese silk and china, tea has become synonymous worldwide with refined culture. As it has been for centuries, this simple gesture of offering a cup of tea to a guest is a fundamental social custom to the Chinese people. As an ancient Chinese poem writes, "When a guest comes to my home from afar on a cold night, I light bamboo to boil tea to offer him."

To a shopaholic in Shanghai, getting a good bargain is definitely priority. However, there are times when one can get a high from chancing rare and exclusive finds, or by walking around aimlessly and admiring beautiful window displays. Sometimes, it is the joy of random exploring that makes the experience all the more enjoyable. You might come to realize that Shanghai is a great walking city because many of its real treasures are un-touted.

Taikang Road with its tiny alleyways barely visible on the map is a treasure trove you would not want to miss. If you want to make the most out of your shopping trip, remember to wear comfortable shoes. In fact, walking might well become your favorite free activity here.


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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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