Thu, July 08, 2010
Lifestyle > Culture

Home is where the art is

2010-07-08 07:33:15 GMT2010-07-08 15:33:15 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Artist couple Wang Gongxin (left) and Lin Tianmiao in their living room. Photos by Zou Hong / China Daily

A pair of finches rest in their cage.

Indoor swimming pool.

A sofa bed.

A splendid view of the pond, which is landscaped by the artists.

The couple previously lived in downtown Beijing and welcomed the prospect of a cleaner, calmer lifestyle in the village, which is home to many Chinese avant-garde artists.

Both Lin and her husband, who is a video artist, have separate studios in the city center. But they decided to move to the suburbs after realizing that they are "getting older" and don't have as much energy to run around.

They decided to eliminate the commute entirely by dividing the house into living and working areas.

In the basement are two studios, an office with a row of flat screen Mac computers, and a well-lit room where workers embroider patterns for Lin. Scattered on the concrete floors of her studio are ivory sculptures shaped like ostrich eggs, in the front of which is a headless crouching figure - Lin's installation, Gazing Back (Procreation).

Wang's studio includes a sound room, a loft space and recording equipment for shooting videos.

"I work almost exclusively at home," Lin said. "I have my equipment here, my assistants and, of course, my husband and son."

Besides a few pieces from Moscow, the artwork that adorns the walls is mainly their own. The works include some of Wang's oil paintings, which he did before switching to video art, as well as a portrait of a younger Lin in army gear.

Before they dug the basement out and did the landscaping, the couple already had a clear vision of what they wanted. Lin, who had previously designed her sisters' restaurants, carefully planned the layout and decoration.

"For this space, I took into consideration every detail of the design, from the ventilation system to plumbing to electrical lines, as well as the amount of light that each window would let in," she said. "They all have an influence on the ambience of the room."

Lin considers the house to have a "luxury design". Their residence includes an elevator, a sky-lit swimming pool and balconies encircling the house on the top two floors. From the highest floor, visitors have a sweeping view of the neighborhood. They would have added a fourth floor, Lin explains, if there hadn't been a height restriction.

The designing process took five months, and from the engineering of the house to finally moving in took 13 months. Lin said the entire process, including purchasing the land and hiring specialists, cost 2 million yuan. The construction was not without difficulties.

"The measurements and designs for each floor and room were so distinct and unconventional that the company we hired to build it was reluctant to work on it, because the project was so time-consuming and complicated," she said.

"They were accustomed to building rooms with the same dimensions, but I think following the blueprint makes a building rigid and the result is not as charming."

The end result, Lin said, was incomparable with the original scheme.

"This house is unrecognizable from the blueprints. Much of the design has been changed, and if you look closely, you'll see many flaws," she said.

She conceded it takes time to develop an affinity for a space.

"As they say with Chinese fengshui, there's always a period of adjustment before you can know the different characteristics of each corner," she continued. "I've become more familiar with the space, and I've come to really like it."

For now, the couple, whose son is studying in the US, is focusing on their creative pursuits and relaxing in their work-of-art home.

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