MADAME MAO'S DOWRY
About Madame Mao's Dowry
We opened our doors in 2001 as a design store that valued design during the Mao Period (1949-1976) and its role in contemporary design in Shanghai. We displayed authentic examples of Mao Period design, (posters, artwork, photographs and objects) in an environment enhanced by individually chosen pieces of antique provincial furniture, setting the scene for the rise of design in China today.
We then invited artists and designers living and working in Shanghai to exhibit and sell their works in this context. Today we have around 25 designers in store.
We chose our name to reflect our connection with modern China and our concentration on the beauty of ordinary things. Mao is a very common name in China and also the name of the most famous character in China's modern history. The infamous last Madame Mao was head of culture during the revolutionary period whilst her predecessor was a heroine of the Long March. The word 'dowry' describes the things that parents collect together for their daughter for her wedding day, so that when she leaves she takes the foundations of her new home with her. These items are carefully made and selected for their utility and their beauty. We selectd these three worrds to create an interaction with people who visit our store, to promote different interpretations and responses.
Between our extensive collection of authentic propaganda posters and news photographs, our own label design wares, and a curated selection of works by contemporary designers working in China, we intend to show the significance of the Mao Period to Chinese design now. Just as this is not a simple linear connection, the designs we sell are not within a simple category and the designers don't share a singular approach or even the same nationality. Over the years we have also contributed to the creative enterprise our concept seeks to encourage by running our own projects to connect, in various small ways, China's history to contemporary design. Most have involved promoting propaganda art as visual culture, but we have also indulged ourselves in other ways!
Me being interviewed by Monocle Magazine