home refurbishing


home refurbishing
(zhuangxiu)
The housing reforms of the 1980s and 1990s marked the end of the ‘work unit’ and the beginning of privately owned housing in urban China. The housing boom not only increased significantly the per capita square-footage of living space, but also spurred a complementary boom in the home furbishing industry. Most new housing units come as shell apartments (maopeifang, i.e. rough or no finish and with minimal internal partitions) because it is expected that the owners will want to arrange the space and design the interior themselves according to their individual taste and budget. This expectation is already a far cry from the spatial and decorative conformism found in danwei housing during the Maoist era. Most people treat their new apartments as permanent homes and subsequently spend staggering sums of money on zhuangxiu, sometimes amounting to many years of the family’s savings. While older people who are retired or nearly retired emphasize the bare essentials of comfort and function in furbishing their new homes (typically purchased from their work units at greatly subsidized prices), members of younger generations often pursue fashionable styles in interior decoration and furnishing (e.g.
European or retro Chinese traditional). Home furbishing design companies and contractors enjoy good business, while typically male rural migrant workers execute the actual work. There is also a strong home furbishing Do-It-Yourself ethos, constituting a demand for a plethora of zhuangxiu-related magazines and books. The Swedish furniture company Ikea has become extremely popular. Gigantic home furnishing ‘cities’ and ‘plazas’ have sprung up in major cities, carrying everything from toilet bowls to hand drills, European-style leather sofas to faux Ming redwood beds.
Tang, Xiaobing (1998). ‘Decorating Culture: Notes on Interior Design, Interiority, and Interiorization’. Public Culture 10.3. Available at http://www.uchicago.edu/research/jnl-pub-cult/backissues/pc26/tang.html
ADAM YUET CHAU

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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