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Lv Yong Zhong, expert of Library of ASC, vice chairman member of the Art Display & Decoration Committee, chairman of Lv YongZhong Associates, founder and chief designer of BANMOO, graduated from Tongji University in 1990 and stayed on as a lecturer for almost 20 years. He has a long-term commitment to architectural interior space and furniture design.

His works have won numerous awards and he is seen as an influential Chinese creative designer as reported in both international and domestic media. He was invited to design window showcases for Hermes flagship store and worked as judge of the IF Design Award China 2009. He attended Hong Kong Business of Design Week 2010 as guest speaker and was awarded as The Top Ten of the Most Influential Interior Designers by China Institute of Interior Design (CIID) in 2011 and 2012. He was also invited to be the member of Hall of Fame by Interior Design China in 2013 and has been recognized as a representative of China’s original design power and one of the Ten Pioneers of China’s Next Era in both domestic and international media reports.

Besides, he was honored as The Forbes China Most Influential Designer in 2015 and National Spirit Achiever by Life Magazine in 2016. Lv YongZhong Associates is honored as the 100 Most Influential Architects and Interior Designer in China from 2013 till now. A common thread through these variegated experiences is his deep-rooted respect for traditional Chinese culture and the unique discourse he brings to the practice and expression of modern design.

Lv Yongzhong

Lv Yongzhong’s love affair with wood began at the age of 18. He recalls the moment when he was searching for the right material to make new furniture for his family, and by chance he met American walnut and fell in love with it at the first sight. “I think it is very similar to my character, low-profile, coffee-toned, stretching but not ostentatious, and it touched me very much.” This not only started Lv’s woodworking journey, but also set the tone of his relationship with wood – first recognize the character of each wood species.

Listening to the Spirituality of Wood

Lv doesn’t like the Chinese name of “wood”, in his opinion, the word “cai” objectifies, instrumentalizes and materializes wood. Everything has its own spirit, so does wood. The natural environment and the cutting process have given each piece of wood a unique personality.

In the eyes of Lv, the low-profile walnut is a scholar of substance, but also a cultivated horse, with a relaxed posture to show strength. There is a kind of sourwood in south America, it has reddish color, wood grain exudes wildness. It is a flamboyant character of the date-red horse, full of explosive force. American ash has a quiet, pure and beautiful temperament, grain like water waves, gentle but not lose strength, rippling the beauty of the years; if deliberately polished out of the concave and convex depth of the hand, it can create a beach touch. American hard maple is delicate and warm, with a jade-like texture after sanding.

After understanding the wood, Lv began to help the wood express itself through design. He wanted to make the wood speak, so he made an octave box with small swirls for the buttons and the tinkling sound of spring water for the music. The small wooden octave box integrates the meaning of landscape.

Musical box made by American walnut and beech
Musical box made by American walnut and beech

Following the Wood Home

In his speech, Lv repeatedly made a strong connection between wood and the intention of home, such as adding a wooden roof to a reinforced concrete building, because under the roof is a family.

Bringing nature home through wooden furniture is a common inspiration for most of designers. Lv adds another layer of interaction between human and wood. In the design of the table and chair “Horizontal Line”, he purposely exposes the top surface of the table legs slightly to the tabletop, forming a smooth parabola, with a slight protrusion that makes people rub it, like a plate, and establishes a more intimate relationship between people and objects.

The table and chair of "Horizontal Line" made by American ash
The table and chair of “Horizontal Line” made by American ash

A piece of furniture may be the residence of a period of time, such as a shelf full of memories; it may also be the symbol of a new journey in life, such as the gift of Lv to himself – the “China Box” wine cabinet. “I’m going to have a cup of wine because my life is over half century.” Lv realized. The box carries a lot of Chinese people’s unique complex and mood, just like the treasure box, exquisite design everywhere there are surprises; and it can also be a moonlight box, open to travel through time and space, and their own memories of the conversation!

The "China Box" wine cabinet made by American walnut
The “China Box” wine cabinet made by American walnut

When it comes to furniture, Lv remembered the first chair he made. Understanding that many people are prejudiced against the comfort of wooden chairs, he specially designed a wooden ergonomic chair to realize the natural fit between people and chairs. The back of the chair is a perfect backrest, and the extended armrests are at the height where the elbow of the seated person naturally falls, as if embracing the seated person. And every line is slim and light, with the soft and delicate temperament of Suzhou, so it is named “Suzhou Chair”.

Suzhou Chair made by American ash
Suzhou Chair made by American ash

Along the Suzhou Chair, Lv also talked about his thoughts on furniture and home. For example, the frame bed, which was once popular for hundreds of years, is both a piece of furniture and a space.

Can a staircase also be made into a complex of furniture and transportation space? For example, does the living room need to be programmed to take up a larger space and furnished with several large sofas? This depends on the specific habits of the homeowner.

If one comes home and likes to nestle in a sofa chair, then the living space might as well be designed around this chair; if the living room is just an excessive space for small sittings when guests visit, then the larger space might as well be ceded to a more commonly used and more important living scenario, which could be a study, a tea room, or a dining room. The important thing is to put people first.

** Photos are provided by BANMOO