"I would describe my house as a place for old youngsters". The past only represents the illusion of no longer being, but somehow it remains in us, in our lives, our faces and in the buildings we inhabit.
Ying in Shangai
Listen to the story told by the author, Flavio Soriga
Wang Ying says he doesn’t remember much about his childhood. Not even what he wanted to be when he grew up?, I ask. “No”, he replies. “Actually, I’d say that a child cannot really understand what it means to dream, to have a dream of the future”. Maybe he’s right. Who knows if someone in Shanghai forty years ago could have imagined that in 2020 the city would be so busy constructing buildings, designing districts, providing work for thousands of creators of forms and figures. Wang Ying is an interior designer. He says he likes his work very much as long as the client or the project proposed are stimulating. “I would describe my house as a place for old youngsters. Because it contains many objects that seem traditional, suited to the tastes of the elderly, but at the same time it does not give the sensation of a place inhabited by old people. Furnishings and books are the most important things in my home. Books, magazines, paintings make the places in which we live ours, adding vitality and spirit to the space. Of course there are also other objects that bring in life. I have an old chair I bought from a street vendor, it cost me 20 RMB and I took it. Now it does not look cheap at all. Looking at it in the corner where it presently stands, it is simply perfect”. Past, present, future, East, West. All the inhabitants of Shanghai I happen to interview seem to always return to these same themes.
Wang Ying lives with his girlfriend. I ask him what love means to him, and whether it is possible to define the greatest of all human mysteries. “It’s a matter of reciprocity, it means being in tune with your counterpart in a natural way, feeling at ease.” “I’d define myself like this: simple, perseverant, logical, refined” he says. And how to define Shanghai, the city in which he lives? “It is different from other international cities. For the standards of China, Shanghai is very international, but for the standards of the world it is very Chinese. Both western and Chinese cultures have very deep roots in Shanghai. It is a city that was like that in the past, and continues to be that way. I believe this character will last, into the future”. And is the city a good fit for a simple but refined personality? “Yes, I like it very much. It is comfortable, both old and new, inviting, fresh, and energetic. In Shanghai, there are many events year around. New places are constantly opening, and I think this keeps people excited about the city. I go out, I explore, I observe the new developments in the city, and during this process I slowly find myself discovering clues about the objects and events of the past”. The past is not even past, Faulkner said, because the past is part of who we are. It had a role in the world we have inherited. It has a role in the present and our existence. The past only represents the illusion of no longer being, but somehow it remains in us, in our lives, our faces and in the buildings we inhabit. This was true in Faulkner’s America, and it is still true today, in Shanghai, an ancient city in total transformation, with its eye on the future.