Thursday, July 13, 2006

Old Shanghai, New Shanghai.

Day Three found our intrepid travelers once again splitting into multiple teams. My group found ourselves wandering through Shanghai on a truly fascinating tour of "Old Shanghai meets New Shanghai". There's so much to say, but as jet lag is seriously smacking me around a bit (and as it's currently 8:45 AM here and I have not yet had my coffee) I'll keep this short.

Notable highlights from yesterday are as follows.

Sprite Icymint

Sprite Icymint is a bizarre soda that is my first discovery of Asia-only subbrand of an American product (please correct me if any of my Western readers have seen this Stateside). It tastes sort of like Sprite but with a fistful of Altoids dissolved in it. I hate to admit it, but I totally loved it - I'm going to miss this stuff when I get home.

The Yu Gardens and Bazaar

The Yu Gardens and Bazaar are a beautiful, beautiful old temple area and further supporting evidence of my opinion that Shanghai is one of the greatest design cities of the world. I need to do some more background reading on this, and I'll post more about it (with pictures!) when I do, but this ancient site had more interesting design elements per square foot than any American equivalent I've ever seen. Each area of the place used different door shapes, different ornamental tiling approaches to their windows, and different tile approaches for the cobblestones in the floor. Curves, swoops, boxes, diamonds - Michael Graves, Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry would all have felt right at home here.

Three on the Bund

Speaking of Michael Graves, Three on the Bund is a high-scale shopping area that Michael Graves helped to restore a few years ago, and it's jaw-dropping. I want to go back and spend some more time here examining his work - we only got to peek our heads into the Armani store on the corner, but the presence of that store (and the Dolce and Gabbana store going in next door) are clear signals of the high fashion scene that's roaring in Shanghai. What I found interesting, though, was that the Armani store didn't seem to be doing much market tailoring (if you'll pardon the pun) for Shanghai. The models in their photography seemed Italian and the clothes all seemed to be fairly identical to the Armani line you'd find anywhere else in the world, which has made me start to wonder about whether these lines ever should alter their offerings for different geographical locations. What would the market for Armani in Shanghai be? Chinese people who love Italian fashions? American or European expats hungry for a little bit of their home style? More thought is definitely required here.

Starbucks Shanghai

Speaking of geographical fashions, I am now the proud owner of a Starbucks Shanghai t-shirt. I saw two Starbucks yesterday - one at the Yu Gardens (no joke) and another that I'll talk a bit more about in a second. The Starbucks we went into was an amazing whirlwind experience - hyper-fast service, super-friendly staff with largely impeccable English, and packed to the gills. I can't wait to see the one in the Forbidden City in Beijing.


The other Starbucks I saw was a gorgeous two-story affair in the high-fashion district of Xintiandi, where my friends and I had a long debate over global design culture, global mall culture (so to speak), and preservation of architecture. I'm a huge fan of how Xintiandi handles this - they renovated a bunch of old buildings into new boutiques, taking beautiful old architecture and modernizing its interiors. This helps preserve the buildings for the future while still integrating historical style into contemporary life. Of course, I grew up in a renovated farmhouse built before the Civil War, so I'm biased. :)

Again, much more to say later and hundreds of pictures to upload, so stay tuned... Right now, coffee calls.

Stupid jet lag.


Victor said...

It's cool here :)
I've read the blog in this site :)
Today's interview is very good :)
I hope that this projectgoodluck can play an important role in connecting the USA and China :)
I've add "projectgoodluck to my favourite :)
I'll often go back this website :)

Victor :)
USST student .
Shanghai .

July 14, 2006 2:23 AM  
Victor said...

I've updated my MSN Space
Good Luck !


July 14, 2006 3:01 AM  
Laura said...

A Starbucks t-shirt huh? What they didn't have any mugs? ;-)

July 14, 2006 8:16 AM  
Geoffrey Long said...

Hey, Victor! I got your email and I'll ping you on MySpace as soon as I get a second - we're rocketing around Beijing at the moment. Tonight, maybe. :)

And no - the one I went to in SHanghai didn't have a mug of the style I like, but the ones here in Beijing do! One more for the rack!

July 15, 2006 8:26 PM  
Victor said...

OK :)

July 15, 2006 10:45 PM  

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