Designer behind 2016 G20 presents talks about upcoming B&R Forum

By Huang Tingting Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/26 19:03:40


(From left) silk scarves, a silk bag for scarves and a silk handbag given as gifts during the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou Photo: Courtesy of Suzhou Laowannian Culture Development Company


Qi Chunlan Photo: Courtesy of Suzhou Laowannian Culture Development Company

A silk scarf decorated with elements reflecting China's Belt and Road initiative and a set of specially designed stamps issued by the China Post - these two items come together to form a gift package for the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the silk scarf's designer Qi Chunlan told the Global Times on Wednesday.

However, who these gifts will be presented to is still unknown. Further details are expected to be revealed during the official opening of the B&R forum on May 14, Qi told the Global Times at a seminar in Beijing for the upcoming Belt and Road Silk Road Culture and Art Exhibition.

"Silk is a very important commodity along the Belt and Road, while postage stamps were a vital medium for exchanges between countries in the past," said the 40-something designer when asked why organizers chose to combine silk and stamps in the gift package.

"We are expressing the concept of connectivity," Qi said. "I also wanted to express the idea of silk being exported to the world via mail. It represents the old days when communication with the outside world was accomplished through letters, while nowadays we have access to more advanced communication technologies."

Spirit of inclusiveness

A veteran silk product designer who runs the 100-year-old accessory maker Laowannin, Qi was the main designer behind the heli, the silk-themed gift package given to the first ladies who attended the Hangzhou G20 summit in 2016.

Containing Suzhou silk scarves, an exquisitely made gold scarf pin and a handmade silk handbag, the G20 gift package designed by Qi and her team was quite a work of art.

"Suzhou has been an important manufacturer of silk since ancient times," Qi said, explaining that the heli were made using four different types of silk products. According to Qi, this merger was meant to embody the summit and the B&R initiative's spirit of inclusiveness and cooperation.

"The name heli (Gift of Harmony) actually expresses the same idea," Qi said. "And the inclusion of a handbag in the gift package also symbolizes the spirit of inclusiveness, since bao, the Chinese word for bag, has the meaning of 'to include.'"

According to Qi, the embroidered pictures of waves and roads at the edge of the scarves represent the land and maritime aspects of the B&R initiative, which was also a highlight of the Hangzhou G20 summit. Meanwhile, the embroidered pictures of scenic places in Hangzhou and the national flowers of the G20 countries found on the scarves and handbags were also a perfect fit for the summit.

According to Qi, the buckles on the handbags and the flower-shaped scarf pins were made using traditional folk handicraft techniques, such as zanke, an ancient technique for etching designs on metal. 

New works

In addition to designing gifts, Qi said she and her team are also working on new works combining ceramics and silk that will be displayed during the Belt and Road Silk Road Culture and Art Exhibition, which is scheduled to open in Beijing on May 28.

"We are trying to put Silk Road-related designs on ceramic wares that will make them look like they are as light as silk," Qi told the Global Times.

In a speech at the seminar entitled "Promoting the Chinese Silk Industry under the Belt and Road Initiative," Qi said she is hoping that the B&R initiative can help revive China's silk industry.

"I believe the Chinese silk industry should take this opportunity to enhance their research and development skills and build national brands that possess Chinese characteristics and culture," Qi said during her speech.

Newspaper headline: Gift of Harmony

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