German designer prefers rural life in Hangzhou
Christoph John rides an electric tricycle at the yard of his house in Qingshan village, Hangzhou. [Video/Hangzhoufeel]
Christoph John is a German designer who has been living with his family in Qingshan village, a tranquil place that is a 45-minute drive from urban Hangzhou, for two years.
He enjoys the picturesque landscapes in the rural area and has also derived inspiration from the local traditional handicrafts.
For example, the process of making oiled-paper umbrella, during which rice paper is pasted onto the umbrella frame, has inspired John to create a similar paper chair of his own. The chair, which is light yet strong, was among the Grand Prix candidates at the prestigious Reddot Awards in 2011.
"It was the umbrella that helped me understand the true value of traditional Chinese crafts," John said.
John and his families have also blended well into the local culture in Qingshan village.
He is now an old hand at driving the electric tricycle, a must-have tool for every household in the village. His wife Nicole recently opened a class to teach local villagers how to do composting, which is a greener method of fertilization. His daughter is currently studying at the kindergarten in Huanghu town. Though the only foreign student at the school, the girl has not been shy to make friends with the locals.
"My life in Qingshan village is pretty good," John said.