While the big fuss about the "Da Vinci case” was spreading in the Chinese media and before my post for the website Cineresie was published, I decided to go and have a look at the big store in Jianguomen (actually, it is more of a showroom, as it occupies 8,000 square metres). I went there on a Saturday morning, on July 16th.
I got to know that the shop moved next to the Friendship store (友谊商店) in 2006: this is a significant change, as the Friendship store, founded in 1964, has been the first and only store selling exclusively to foreigners and foreign goods in China (its status has changed over the years, as it now sells also to Chinese people and mainly sells Chinese goods... this is really interesting: if, in the past, it could have warrant a foreign origins of goods and a sense of internationalisation, what could it guarantee now?).
1. View from the Da Vinci store (Friendship Store is on the right)
As I entered, some workers of the shop welcomed me and even though I made clear that I just wanted to have a look around, they literally excorted me around the store, as if they were bodyguards. I was not allowed to take pictures - of course, I asked for the permission! - but I was so bad as to take two, which I am happy to share with you in this post. Personally, I didn’t like the furniture they sell – too kitsch and cumbersome – and I kept wondering:
- who can afford to buy this "Western stuff" here in Beijing?
- who can fit such huge beds and sofas in a normal house here in Beijing?
I guess my worries are the reasons that make the majority of foreign enterpreneurs happy: China has rich people! Chinese people buy luxury goods! Oh yeah. I'm sorry, but I'm very skeptical about this semplicistic view.... anyway, my "tour guide" told me that people buy them, so no need to worry (at least for the foreign business people!). There was a third question going through my head, among others that I cannot share with you: would this kind of furniture sell in Italy or in any other country? Have a look here:
2. A luxury bed exposed in the Da Vinci store
The atmosphere in the shop was tense and, apart from me, there was only a couple of young Chinese (were they journalists???) Obviously, I didn't ask anything about the scandal, but I noticed that the labels of Italian furniture were simply saying "MADE IN ITL" (does it stand for "ITALY"?) and that the pieces of furniture of Ms. Tang (see the first post on the Da Vinci case) were not on sale anymore. I saw one piece of furniture of the same Italian brand Ms. Tang bought, and I thought it was very weird that the two doors of the wine cupboard opened both from the right to the left, which is pretty uncommon and surely not very practical.
Unfortunately, I was able to take just another picture in the only place where they didn't follow me: yes, the toilet!
3. A shot of the impressive luxury toilet in the Da Vinci store
The Da Vinci store in Beijing doesn't only sell furniture, but also ornaments, fabrics and jewelry. Later on, I found out that Ms. Phuan, beside holding a PhD. (the specialty, though, is never mentioned), is also a very creative woman and has her own line of jewelry. I selected here some of her most significant creations, all the pictures come from the website: http://www.dorisvinci.com/
"Renzo" is a casual example from the watches series, which boasts also other models, namely: Ilario, Iniga, Vitus, Viviana and Phaedra.
"Doris" is a piece of the Jewely series, which comprehends also other pieces, namely: Eterna, Fiore, La perla, Quadrato, Vertigo and Rossa.
"Ellenico" is a ring of the New Collection, that consists also of other pieces, namely: Merletto, Eternità, Polvere di stelle, Innamorato and Margherita.
It seems Italy and Italian names played a crucial role in the life of Doris Phua. In case you want to purchase Dr. Phua's jewelry but you don't happen to be in Beijing, China, or Asia, and find yourself in Italy instead, you still can go and check her store in Italy. As advertised on the website, the first store on the store locator section is in Italy, precisely in Como, "PLZZA SAN FEDELE NO. 5".
7. Doris Vinci's store in Italy
LAST UPDATE: I just discovered that there is also an Italian website: http://www.dorisvinci.it, which advertises a second Doris Vinci store in Via Montesolaro 14/B, Cantù. I hope the collections sold in Italy don't have the blatantly Italian names of the ones that are sold in China and in Asia!