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Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 19:30

Furniture, House, Home, Family: The Living Environment in Traditional and Modern China

Kai-Yin Lo, Historian, Designer

U.S. Embassy Residence

Collecting classical and vernacular Chinese furniture has led Kai-Yin Lo to focus not only on their aesthetic properties, but also their function and arrangement in the house. It was a natural progression, (and Kai-Yin Lo was one of the first scholars pursuing this direction) to place furniture in the broader framework of the Chinese house, and examine its spiritual, social and symbolic meanings. The spatial layout, structure, ethics and values determine family organization and relations within the house, and in turn shape the social order in the living environment without. The house, Kai-Yin Lo came to realize, is a microcosm of Chinese life and society.

Kai-Yin Lo, internationally acclaimed as a jewellery designer, is also well known as a collector, author, art promoter and scholar of Chinese society and culture. A historian by training (Cambridge and London Universities), she examines art objects in the context of the cultural, social and economic environment of the era.

In this lecture, she will also explore the influence and inter-relations between furniture and architecture, a topic that has not yet received sufficient focus. With the drift of the population from the countryside to cities, what is happening to the old dwellings and their physical preservation? What are the changes wrought in the social and cultural patterns affecting family relations and issues of privacy and individuality?