They say that China’s art and cultural mecca is Beijing. But the artists of Taikang Road try to keep Shanghai on China’s artistic map. With their small boutiques, design studios, and creative atmosphere, they have managed to create a very unique feel in this corner of the city. If you come to Shanghai and want to buy gifts that are original and not “touristy,” this is the place to be. I was there only for two hours on Tuesday, and barely scratched the surface. Whether its Vietnamese tableware, children’s toys hand-made by a French designer, or silk Chinese slippers you are after, there is something for everyone. Some of the shops and studios are built into old warehouses – and when they say warehouse, they are not kidding. I almost didn’t climb the metal staircase in the International Artists’ Factory because I couldn’t imagine there were retail shops up top! It’s really exciting to find these hidden treasures.
I can’t wait to go back.

I spent the greater part of yesterday touring some of the city’s furniture stores with our driver (who would have guessed he would become my best shopping companion!).  Just as a side note, I have the driver this week, because Patrick is in Korea working on a big project which is additional to his already massive responsibilities for the production here in China. If everything goes as planned and the contract for the apartment we have chosen from the 40 or so apartments we viewed is signed this week, we plan to move on July 14th. As the landlord already removed the sofa set we were not fond of (think three over-sized mustard-yellow leather sofa “balloons” and a matching white and red coffee table), we urgently have to buy a replacement.  There are a lot of places here that make sofas to order, but these take some time. Between fighting my migraine, trying to ask questions about colors/material/delivery in Chinese, and absorbing the immense selection, I got completely confused and am now waiting for Patrick to make the final decision.

Aside from the sofas though, I also went to a section of the city that specializes in antique or antique-looking furniture. Again, everything can be made to order. You simply have to show up with your favorite table/chair from a magazine and they can recreate it. You can even bring in your own ideas. The possibilities are so endless – my creative juices got flowing and I realized the temptation of some expats to redecorate their entire household (if they don’t rent a fully-furnished flat as many do).

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