Blissliving Home http://www.blisslivinghome.com A Global Touch for the Modern Home. Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:20:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mexico City: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/meis-mexico-city-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/meis-mexico-city-inspiration-travel/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 20:45:26 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=215 Celebrate the Magic that is Mexico City and Explore the Love, Life & Art of Frida Kahlo! To many the idea of Mexico brings up sandy beaches and turquoise waters, laid-back Latin music and lazy afternoons of nursing fruity Margaritas. To me, someone who grew up in China during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Mexico I...

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Celebrate the Magic that is Mexico City and Explore the Love, Life & Art of Frida Kahlo!

To many the idea of Mexico brings up sandy beaches and turquoise waters, laid-back Latin music and lazy afternoons of nursing fruity Margaritas.

To me, someone who grew up in China during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Mexico I imagined was inspired by a rare attendance of a Mexican National Music and Art Performance. The big and colorful skirts and the hats of the dancers dazzled me, and the fast moving tempo of the music painted a picture of a country of beautiful colors and happy people. But it took me more than 20 years from this childhood experience to visit Mexico’s fascinating capital in person.

Many cities are defined by their landscape; some by their historical monuments, palaces, and museums. Mexico City has it all. But a description of Mexico’s capital is not complete without mentioning two amazing artists that called Mexico City their home: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Home of Two Amazing Artists – Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

I arrived in Mexico City one day before my sister and her friend, who were joining me for a three-day short trip to the city. I knew my sister and her friend would want to hit the most popular tourist spots like the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, “the city of the gods”. I decided to pay a visit to the House-Studio Museum of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo as well as the Frida Kahlo Museum to learn more about Mexico’s intriguing artists, who are also remembered for their passionate and stormy marriage.

Considered the greatest Mexican painter of the 20th century, Diego Rivera has had a huge effect on the international art world. He has been credited with the reintroduction of fresco painting into modern art and architecture, and was able to introduce his work into the everyday lives of the people by painting his work on public buildings in Mexico City. Diego’s most famous murals depict scenes from Mexican history and his art always reflected his intense social and political views.

Frida’s work, in contrast, is very personal and intimate. She is best known for her self-portraits that include native Mexican symbolism and are painted in intense, vibrant colors. A survivor of polio as a child, at age 18 Frida was seriously injured in a car accident and suffered throughout her life from health problems. Frida’s self-portraits highlight these physical struggles as well as her emotional pain resulting from the turbulent relationship with Diego. But throughout all of her life, Diego remained the biggest supporter of Frida’s art.

A Peak into the Inner Works of Diego Rivera at the House-Studio Museum

Architecturally, the House-Studio Museum of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo is a complete stand-out in the traditional colonial neighborhood of San Angel. It is one of the first constructions of the modern movement in the American continent. This avant garde home where Frida and Diego lived from 1934 through 1940 includes 2 separate houses, painted in bright blue and red, which are joined by a walkway. Frida lived and worked in the blue block, and Diego had his rooms in the red block.

Diego’s studio has a very open and minimalist structure with large open windows allowing sunlight to come in at all time of the day. Here he created over 3000 paintings. Inside Diego’s area are many traditional Mexican sculptures and his easel and many paint utensils are on display. One can clearly imagine Diego painting away with his brushes and acrylic paints still on the desk.

If Diego’s House-Studio allows a peak into the inner works of a great talent, the Frida Kahlo Museum in Frida’s family home showcases the intimate details of her personal life along with her art.

A Visit to Frida Kahlo’s Family Home, La Casa Azul, in the very chic neighbourhood of Coyoacan

Known as The Blue House for the cobalt-blue exterior walls, the museum is located in Coyoacan, a very chic suburb filled with historical residences and great restaurants. This is where Frida was born and where she spent the final years of her life.

One cannot stop to be surprised by how well the house has been preserved. The courtyard is the center of the building and is filled with many beautiful plants and sculptures. It reveals Frida’s immense love for flora and fauna. Inside the house, Frida’s living quarters have been maintained to showcase how the artist lived.

Beautiful and intricate lace is laid out everywhere, on Frida’s bed and across tables. And there are photos and artwork of Frida and her friends. If it was not for the many tourists you are surrounded by, one could feel as if walking around the rooms close to Frida who is wearing one of her indigenous Mexican Tehuana dresses and some of her gorgeous jewelries. And Frida’s self-portraits on display are so stunning they continue to inspire designers and filmmakers alike.

The metropolis that is Mexico City, built over ancient Aztec ruins with romantic streets, stairs and colonial houses painted in vibrant colors, presented a perfect backdrop for a Blissliving Home design story which I knew from the beginning would be centered on Frida.

We wanted to Capture the Passion, the Love, and the Drama that was Frida’s Life

As we started our design journey, our first and most important study was that of Frida’s self-portraits which capture the passion, the love, and the drama that was Frida’s life. We decided to focus on a floral theme inspired by the beautiful garden at La Casa Azul.

Our Frida bed is a sea of midnight blue which opens up to passionate oversized blossoms of Dahlias, the national flower of Mexico. Building on Blissliving Home’s signature design philosophy, this bed is an interpretation of Frida’s life as a woman and as an artist. Bearing in mind the darkest and the brightest moments of her life, we wanted the bed to reveal Frida’s vulnerability, her radiance and her bold style.

Paying tribute to Frida’s family home in Coyoacan, we next painted a stormy blue bed with watercolor and ink technique on a linen-textured background. Named Casa Azul, this bed is at once peaceful and thought-provoking and also conceptual.

A Celebration of Mexico City, its Rich Culture, and the Traditions of the Mexican People

To celebrate Mexico City and the rich culture and traditions of its people, we wanted to add a bed inspired by the motifs, colors and textures I noticed during my visit. The famous “House of Tiles” on Francisco Madero Street, the many restaurants, tables, terra cotta potteries, rugs and stairs all served as inspiration. With the Madero bed, which has the most literal Mexican feel of all the beds in the collection, I wanted to communicate my deep appreciation of the culture and the craftsmanship of those items that helped make my visit in Mexico City so memorable.

The fourth bed in this collection is named Zocalo after the main square in Mexico City’s historic center which has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times. Honoring the city’s history, the Zocalo bed is a jacquard design with an Aztec inspired pattern. Woven with intricate strands of white, gray and black yarns, we were able to achieve a stunning texture in this bed that is bold and modern but with a definite Mexican influence.

As with each Blissliving Home collection, we added an amazing amount of decorative throws and pillows for each bed. We searched the world for the most stunning materials and techniques to accentuate each bed with items that provide texture, color, depth and motifs that complement the bedding design. To top it off, we created an embroidered coverlet with an amazingly soft hand and made it available in a selection of vibrant colors.

Now that we can look at this collection as a whole, I still feel inspired by the life, the art, and the passion of Frida Kahlo and enchanted by the magic that is Mexico City. The memories are so fresh and lovely, I almost feel as if I just returned from coffee with Frida and her friends at her house. I very much hope our audience will share this experience as they enjoy these new Blissliving Home designs.

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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Aspen: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/meis-aspen-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/meis-aspen-inspiration-travel/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 17:56:34 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=333 Call of the Mountain! Throughout my travels, whenever I fly over snow covered mountains, I feel the rush of skiing down the slopes on my first trip to Aspen. Growing up in China, the idea of skiing was both thrilling and intimidating.  I was ambitious to take up skiing in my mid-20s when I first...

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Call of the Mountain!

Throughout my travels, whenever I fly over snow covered mountains, I feel the rush of skiing down the slopes on my first trip to Aspen.

Growing up in China, the idea of skiing was both thrilling and intimidating.  I was ambitious to take up skiing in my mid-20s when I first moved to DC, but quickly determined I was too old to learn.  However my kids became avid skiers so I planned a trip to Aspen, which promised a great deal of powdery snow.

The drive to the hotel wound up and down stone mountains, so majestic and silent. Snow blanketed most of the peaks, but you could always see the red rocks peeking out.  We passed by a charming city lined with art galleries, cute restaurants, and one of a kind boutiques, before arriving at our hotel, Little Nell.  Nestled right at the foot of the mountain, it had a rustic chic vibe with a contemporary color pallet. There was a warmth and lightness to the décor and a modern twist to the furniture.

The Aspen Experience

With such great ski conditions, I decided to try my luck one more time.  The familiar fear rushed over me, but the friendly instructor helped me to ski down the slope without a fall.  I felt exhilarated and suddenly the mountains seemed to come to life.  I noticed for the first time the beautiful birch trees, tall, and beautifully lining up the slopes. Against the white snow, they looked particularly poetic and with the blue sky and colorful birds dancing in the sunshine, it made a permanent impression in my head and I knew I had to recreate this inspiring moment for an Aspen collection.

I also wanted to celebrate my ambience of the Little Nell hotel, natural and rustic while at the same time modern and completely new.  I incorporated southwestern inspired patterns throughout the collection, from the Cheyenne duvet with embroidered geometrics on linen, to the stacked chevron reverse on Harper, to the colorful designs on the Pawnee pillow.  The pillows are infused with updated earth tones likes Persimmon, Gold, and Charcoal.  And no ski weekend collection could be complete without warm layers of rich texture, like our woven Presley throws, yarn stitched Parker pillow, and luxurious fur Kylie pillow.

I treasure this Aspen experience because it was there that I found the joy and thrill to ski down beautiful snow covered mountains, content and centered. And it is there that the rustic chic aesthetic registered in my design pallet, celebrating the very best of living with what nature has to offer.

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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Abu Dhabi: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/meis-abu-dhabi-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/meis-abu-dhabi-inspiration-travel/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 21:38:38 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=365 Awaken the Opulence of Abu Dhabi! I never found the idea of a desert romantic or exotic. But after moving to the US and getting to know other deserts around the world, thoughts of the colors and shades of light that dance over sand dunes made something I previously overlooked appear full of endless possibility. Presenting itself with...

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Awaken the Opulence of Abu Dhabi!

I never found the idea of a desert romantic or exotic. But after moving to the US and getting to know other deserts around the world, thoughts of the colors and shades of light that dance over sand dunes made something I previously overlooked appear full of endless possibility. Presenting itself with majestic charm, I found Abu Dhabi to be a perfect gateway to a culture and landscape brand new to me—one that provided the perfect inspiration for our newest collection.

The first thing on my agenda was a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque known for its breathtaking scale and luxurious details. Even from afar, you can see what a magnificent place it is. With its infinite white marble exterior and colorful granite carved into traditional motifs, it is both sacred and peacefully inspiring. Ancient symbols dominant in the motifs covering the mosque’s interior combine with ornate scroll designs and divine gold accents to illuminate the ceiling and reconfirm a yearning for something heavenly and earthly all at once. Taking hints of that white marble, the overwhelming scale of the building, and those eccentric embellishments, I began thinking about our 2013 Abu Dhabi Collection.

But of all the adventures Abu Dhabi offered, my favorite was a jeep ride coasting over waves of sand as the jeep rose up and down, dancing with the desert dunes. Captivated by the vastness of the desert and mesmerized as the sun cast a magic spell upon the sand, I watched the bright blue skies turn to a purple shade of grey. Everything came to life in inconceivable contrasts. From deep cocoa browns and sienna to corals and golden amber, the richness presented by the colors of the sand at dusk was unlike anything else.

Back home, I tried to convert the excitement I felt that day and the brilliant hues I remembered emerging from the light upon the dunes into vivid colors, oversized motifs, and impeccable details to please the eye and soothe the soul. The result is our Spring 2013 collection: Abu Dhabi.

Laid over sand-colored ground is a vibrant symbol found within the mosque. Accessories burst with ample embroidery, metallic fabrics, and uniquely bold designs. Through details almost as grand as the mosque itself and colors captured from the rays of a desert sun, impressions of a remarkable culture emerge. As you take in each piece of this exotic collection, I hope you, too, take one step closer to finding that magically romantic location that for some is still a dream!

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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Paris: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/paris-meis-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/paris-meis-inspiration-travel/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 21:43:27 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=376 Rendezvous with Paris Doubting that Paris could ever live up to its larger than life reputation, I avoided going there for quite a while. In many mediums, it seemed all of its extravagance had already been explored and exploited. It was nothing personal; I just feared the disappointment I would face when Paris did not live up to the...

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Rendezvous with Paris

Doubting that Paris could ever live up to its larger than life reputation, I avoided going there for quite a while. In many mediums, it seemed all of its extravagance had already been explored and exploited. It was nothing personal; I just feared the disappointment I would face when Paris did not live up to the flawless picture the arts and mainstream media had painted.

But after our first encounter, Paris surpassed my expectations with an inconceivable combination of history, arts, architecture, fashion, food, and, most importantly, people that capture the imagination so intensely one cannot help but to be lured back again.

In all the interpretations of Paris I had experienced through others, none had explained the world of fashion, as it truly exists there: incredibly refreshing, yet understated. Ensembles that were at once simple with black and white came alive through tailoring that showed off each figure in a subtle yet chic way.

Fashion is not just a mere art in Paris; it is something deeply set in one’s life. Between haute couture, the fine delicacies offered at the markets, and mouthwatering scents of La Maison du Chocolat drifting through the air, the desire to stay felt so natural.

Since my first journey there, I have felt Paris call on my heart many times. Always obliging, I go back for more, and Paris returns the favor by revealing more of itself each time. Referencing lusty European romance, they say in Paris you will fall in love—but it was with Paris that I fell in love.

With each romantic rendezvous, the City of Light exudes classic luxuries and flirty feminine details that provide inspiration until we meet again. From sweet memories in Le Marais and St. Germain, I collected impressionable motifs and palettes that so endearingly speak of Paris to share in our new collection. As you journey throughout this marvelous city, don’t be surprised if you fall in love, too.

Bon Voyage!

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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Easter Island: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/easter-islands-meis-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/easter-islands-meis-inspiration-travel/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:33:38 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=384 Explore a New Side of Paradise My travels have taken me all around the globe, but I will be the first to admit they are concentrated mostly in Europe and Asia. So, even as a self-proclaimed globetrotter, I jumped at the chance to visit Easter Island for the first time. Other islands are, of course,...

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Explore a New Side of Paradise

My travels have taken me all around the globe, but I will be the first to admit they are concentrated mostly in Europe and Asia. So, even as a self-proclaimed globetrotter, I jumped at the chance to visit Easter Island for the first time. Other islands are, of course, stunning but as the most remote inhabited island in the world, and most southeastern point of Polynesia, Easter Island is a lone paradise in the Pacific.

Nested in turquoise shades of deep seas speckled with lava rocks, endless green meadows stretch coast to coast. Nearby, bold flowers tiptoe carefully around archaic volcanoes and quarries. The second I laid eyes on such vibrant elements of nature, the palette for this season’s paradisal destination came to life.

Across the treeless land, 887 giant moai statues carved from enormous lava stones, stand proudly along ceremonial shrines, while others back the sea along the shoreline, facing inward to watch over generations of their people. Averaging 13 feet high and weighing 14 tons, their minimalist style relates to forms found throughout Polynesia.

Optimism radiated across the island, through the beaming smiles of natives, which seemed to say they were happy left alone, secluded by such remoteness. After a dark history of near deforestation, civil wars, and population declines, they simply want to celebrate a peaceful existence. And celebrate, they do! Lively dancing and constant drumbeats are simply part of daily island life.

On Easter Island, I found a paradise in its original form for the first time. Here, time stayed still. Civilization somewhat meant destroying one culture by insisting on another. And in between, lies the most beautiful island that is both vast and picturesque, but empty and still.

Contemplating the best way to capture the unique flora and fauna of this exotic utopia, I took snapshots with both my camera and mind. My heart beat fast with excitement thinking of our upcoming collection, then slow again while taking in the soothing scenery.

With refined highlights of nature, colorfully presented in exotic designs, we invite you to discover true paradise: Explore Easter Island!

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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Argentina: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/argentina-meis-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/argentina-meis-inspiration-travel/#comments Sun, 28 Aug 2011 12:40:53 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=388 I’ve always imagined Argentina is a woman. I picture her in Buenos Aires, strolling the wide avenues lined of stately mansions in French, Spanish and Italian baroque styles, reminiscing about a life of culture and glamour in a city once known as the Paris of South America. Passing by the famous colonial pink palace, Casa Rosada, she lingers for a moment to remember...

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I’ve always imagined Argentina is a woman. I picture her in Buenos Aires, strolling the wide avenues lined of stately mansions in French, Spanish and Italian baroque styles, reminiscing about a life of culture and glamour in a city once known as the Paris of South America. Passing by the famous colonial pink palace, Casa Rosada, she lingers for a moment to remember Evita’s luxurious style and legendary speech from its balcony. A trek to breathtaking Patagonia restored her. But tonight there is tango, the Argentine dance of intimacy, romance and heartbreak, and she has a new lace-trimmed dress that fits just so.

Where does a woman like that live? The answers are at the heart and soul of our newest Blissliving
Home destination collection.

We’ve borrowed tints from colonial mansions, terracotta and sandstone, mineral hues, slate-green river rocks, and vast blue sky. Bold strokes of Buenos Aires’ internationally renowned graffiti artists partner with craft-inspired construction. We’ve married landscape shades with baroque architecture and taken pattern embellishment cues from Andean ponchos and gaucho attire. Finishing touches inspired by tango’s sexy, sweeping ruffle and lace trims move freely from the dance floor to our bedding and home décor.

She can be forgiven for talking too much of her storied past because she is always reinventing herself. In this collection, we have given her – and you – all you need to invent your dream of Argentina.

¡Ciao, suerte!

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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London: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/london-meis-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/london-meis-inspiration-travel/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2011 13:53:37 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=391 Big Ben Chimes, it’s London Calling. London came to me first in September 1982, when United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher traveled to China. The Iron Lady visited the city of Hangzhou, where I was born and where, at age 15, I was attending a boarding school for diplomacy. As a representative of my school,...

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Big Ben Chimes, it’s London Calling.

London came to me first in September 1982, when United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher traveled to China. The Iron Lady visited the city of Hangzhou, where I was born and where, at age 15, I was attending a boarding school for diplomacy. As a representative of my school, I was asked to meet Mrs. Thatcher in a ceremony with other representatives of the city.

I remember going up to her and introducing myself. She greeted me then turned to her aide and unexpectedly produced the biggest book my young life had ever seen: The Book of the Royal Wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1981.

The rest of the event was a blur. I remember someone immediately whisking the book away, worried such a heavy volume would be dropped and damaged in front of the media. Once we were back in our school, all the children were so excited that during our break we all jammed into the library to marvel at the book’s pages.

A Magical First Impression

I’m certain you can almost picture how we girls—all 15 years and younger—stared at those mesmerizing photos, and how we felt realizing that somewhere in the world such spectacle existed. Among the most talked about photos showed the 25-foot train of Diana’s fairytale wedding gown, the colorful Royal Carriage, and the grand staircase of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In 1982, China had just started to open up to the world and most people had never traveled overseas. The photos of the Royal Wedding were as distant as the paintings we studied in art history books. Perhaps that was when my first impression of London was formed and my fascination with the Royal Family took hold. I saw London as a city somewhat representing a crossroad of the past and the present, a place where you can preserve grand and ceremonial splendor while leaping into a modern world that is completely contemporary in attitude, all at once.

London, At Last

Four years later, while studying for an undergraduate degree in Beijing and interning for the World Bank in China, I had a chance to attend an environmental conference in Britain. The meeting was held in the northern city of York, so my dream to visit London was within reach. Paying my own way, I met up with a friend who was studying drama there.

I boarded the train and was on my way to London! As we approached the city, the buildings appeared closer and closer to each other. I stepped off the train at King’s Cross Station and there was my friend, eager to show me the sights of what was, for me at the time, the ultimate destination. My tour of London began immediately.

Of course, London was nothing like it was in books! After all, it was an amazing July day! My friend and I rushed off to see the changing of guards at Buckingham Palace so we could dive right into our curiosity of the Royal Family. After that, we went to all the famous tourist attractions, taking pictures at Westminster Abby, waving to other tourists at Big Ben, and trying in vain to fit all of London Bridge into our little camera.

 The Splendor of Fabrics and Finery

As if there was an invisible thread leading us by the nose, we stumbled upon Liberty Department Store.

Even today, my friend still jokes about how I, not she, “discovered” Liberty. Most often, it was Harrod’s that always captured the hearts and purses of thousands of visitors; you practically couldn’t miss their green and gold logo bags everywhere in London. But Liberty can be an acquired taste, especially for a first-time visitor, a kind of secret that Londoners keep to themselves. Legendary Liberty fabrics are their pride and joy, and they love having such unique style to call their own.

For me, Liberty was love at first sight. As a student on my first trip out of China, stumbling into Liberty felt like Alice falling into Wonderland. I have always loved stuff, partly due to having been deprived of many pretty things from clothes to gifts while growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Sometimes such deprivation trains your eyes to constantly search for beautiful objects. In Liberty, my eyes went into a wild chase to focus, to center, for object after object revealed such refined elegance to delight the senses.

On the first floor, we ran our fingers across the soft leather journals in hues of robin’s egg blue, tangerine, and putty gray; our eyes traveled up and down the chic and stunning scarves; and we literally got lost in the fabric department. Growing up, I had always had a tailor, so finding fabrics and imagining what to do with it was a natural for me. But I had never seen such opulence—drapery-like silk dupionis, luscious beaded and sequined textiles from India, and bold and luxurious woven linens from Italy. We knew we wouldn’t buy anything; what kind of fabric do you buy at Liberty when you are a college student sharing a room with other college students? But that didn’t stop us from dreaming as we spent hours gazing at and touching so many beautiful and unusual fabrics.

Tea Time at Liberty of London

Hungry and tired, but in complete bliss, we looked for a place to grab a snack and arrived at the third floor restaurant just in time for tea. We were seated at a table set in crisp white linens, silver service and English bone china. The server, recognizing that this was my first experience with the ritual of English afternoon tea, “poured out” the steaming tea with considerable ceremony. I smiled at my friend as I took my first bite of hot scones with Cornish clotted cream and homemade raspberry jam. It was splendid, and from that moment on, I never believed anyone who said that the British don’t know how to cook!

London Calling—to the Shopping District

No 19-year-old girl would ever miss the shopping at Piccadilly and Oxford Street. London girls were (and are) so fashionable, and I was impressed by their clever way of mixing and matching items, how effortless it was for them to match a crisp white shirt with a pair of pencil pants and high heels (mind you, this was 1988).

I will never forget how well history and architecture are preserved in London. It impressed me that people would go out of their way to make roads curve this way and that in order to preserve a monument or a park. I was also taken by the contrast of the historical buildings and landmarks with Londoners who were so contemporary in the way they dressed and in the new art and music they seemed to constantly create. Once again, the theme of a crossroad of past and present echoed in my mind.

That first trip, my friend and I decided London was definitely one of our most favorite cities.

 London Everlasting

I have since returned to London a dozen times. As the rest of the world goes on with their modernization and globalization, London keeps pace while insisting on its own way of preserving history. I still go to Liberty for the inspiration of its prints, but I’ve also discovered the many boutiques of Chelsea, and gained an appreciation of bespoke tailored suits worn by the men and women in the financial district.

Last January, after a quick visit to Paris, I decided to stop over in London before heading back to Washington, D.C. The flight took me to London City Airport, a stone’s throw from downtown London, which put me in the mood right away.

In the cold and damp winter air, we made our pilgrimage to Liberty, and gazed at the displays in Harvey Nichols. We loved the creativity of the Conran Shop, and marveled at the assortment at Selfridges. Along the way, we discovered a “Lychee Rose” Martini in a newly opened restaurant, and couldn’t help but feel the vibe that, as always, London was vibrant, creative and inviting us to join the fun.

London Calls

To me, London is simply irresistible, so it is no surprise that it has inspired this season’s destination and theme, “London Calling.” Decades ago, it was the first city that I visited outside of China. It’s still one of my MFCs, and it continues to captivate me with its innovative blend of charm and cheekiness, traditions and trends.

We couldn’t design a London collection without thinking about a color story. I chose a white and grey story for its obvious connection to London climes, its urban appeal, and the fact that it creates an all-embracing backdrop for just about any color story. And London’s iconic buildings come naturally to mind when we searched for images and graphic motifs. Our selection of a particular shade of mint green as accent color represents a crossroad of sea blue and forest green that is exactly the kind of color you would imagine in a chic London townhouse with crisp white crown molding and a white marble fireplace.

The Gift of a Royal Wedding

Of course, this year, we can’t design a London collection without including the magic of a royal wedding! As the city prepares for the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, I cannot help but remember the book given to my school by Mrs. Thatcher and wonder what spectacle awaits the world. In homage to all the fairytale weddings taking place this year, you will see many pieces that make lovely gifts for newlyweds.

As you view the entire collection, it will no doubt remind you of things you have heard about or experienced in this marvelous destination. My hope is that it will also invite you to play and create your own version of a perfect London flat. Each of us adds something that is decidedly our own, so that London will definitely remain of Blissliving Home’s MFCs here, there and everywhere.

Cheers!

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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Shangri-La: Mei’s Inspiration Travel http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/shangri-la-meis-inspiration-travel/ http://www.blisslivinghome.com/meis-travel-journal/shangri-la-meis-inspiration-travel/#comments Sun, 15 Aug 2010 12:59:17 +0000 http://www.blisslivinghome.com/beta/?p=394 Unlock the Mysteries of Shangri-La When the flight arrived at Zhongdian (also called Shangri-La) in the middle of July, 2009, there were only a few suitcases at baggage claim, suggesting that this corner of China’s Yunnan province remains a quiet spot for visitors. We were greeted by our tour guide, a brightly dressed “Zuo Ma”...

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Unlock the Mysteries of Shangri-La

When the flight arrived at Zhongdian (also called Shangri-La) in the middle of July, 2009, there were only a few suitcases at baggage claim, suggesting that this corner of China’s Yunnan province remains a quiet spot for visitors.

We were greeted by our tour guide, a brightly dressed “Zuo Ma” (Tibetan for “young woman”). Then we quickly squeezed everything onto the bus—kids, bags, grandparents—along with a desperate urge to dash out to see everything that has Shangri-La intrigued the world since 1933 when James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon” was published.

This trip to Shangri-La had been in my dreams for many years. Ever since reading the book in high school, I had had this itch to travel by myself with a backpack to explore this “paradise” in peaceful solitude.

Instead, I had not only gathered my family but our extended family as well. Including grandparents, an uncle, an aunt and some of my closest friends, our little entourage turned into a group of 18 ranging from 5 to 80 years of age.

They won’t believe this back in Beijing

Due to its altitude of more than 15,000 feet, Shangri-La is cool in the middle of summer. We stopped to outfit everybody with warm jackets, raincoats and hats, as well as two bottles of oxygen for each as some of us already felt breathless.

The bus pulled out of the National Park and we were on our way. In contrast to what one sees in the coastal cities of China with nothing but seas of people, here, finally, was land kept green by constant rain, cool from its closeness to the sky, and achingly beautiful in a rustic, untouched way.

Grassland stretched miles and miles in all directions, dotted with black and brown wild horses lazily playing with each other. Birds, large and daring, stopped right in front of us to check out the rarely seen invaders. Herds of water buffalo, running so quietly despite their large size, paused every so often to peek at us. The cold, blue lakes reminded me of those high in the Swiss Alps.

Most amazing of all was the quietness. Not a deadly silence, but a natural quiet devoid of the sounds of planes, of cars, of loud human chatter. Underneath the quiet is a liveliness that is most primitive, as if all creatures have established a code, a code to keep this place as tranquil as it is serenely breathtaking.

Mom, are we there yet?

After four hours of hiking, we re-boarded our bus and headed to the city of Shangri-La where we were to stay in a lodge owned by a poet. However, well before we reached our destination, the driver stopped to talk with the Zuo Ma. She turned and explained to us that the narrow, cobblestone roads made it impossible for the bus to go farther. She apologized and said we would have to hike the rest of the way—kids, grandparents, bags and all.

In just a few steps, we understood the difficulty. The streets, no more than 10 feet wide and made up of very large cobbles, seemed best suited for horses. After many turns and endless pulling of kids with one arm and suitcases with the other, we saw the lodge—a beautifully refurbished house with wooden double doors, a stone courtyard and eight bedrooms individually designed by the poet and his wife.

Ring-ring, magnificent splendor calling

As we settled into bamboo chairs and sipped traditional Tibetan su yo cha (tea made with yak butter), we suddenly heard the sound of the bell ringing in the nearby Tibetan Buddhist temple.

I ran to the temple with the sound of the bell still ringing in my ears, and was so taken by the sight I came upon, and the lack of oxygen, that I leaned on the temple’s large wooden door to collect myself.

In front of me was the most amazing array of colors, textures, aromas and sounds I had come across in Shangri-La.

Yellow walls with red clay roofs stood against a brilliant turquoise sky. The monks’ hurried to afternoon prayers, their sienna-colored robes moving like meadow flowers in the breeze. The air was fragrant with incense. Prayers echoed throughout the openness of the temple. Graphic symbols of the ancient religion decorated the stone walls, wood panels and drapes. Every surface rang out with color and texture, every moment with scents and sounds unlike any others.

Later we strolled the many squares and lanes of old-town Shangri La and saw those colors over and over again, in hand-woven wool shawls, turquoise and silver jewelry, and magnificently stitched table runners and pillow cases.

As I closed my eyes that night, the green and untouched paradise we hiked and the colorful, ethno-chic streets we strolled came together in my mind to form the single, unified impression of Shangri-La that would become the inspiration for our newest destination collection.

Paradise found in a luxurious yurt

To my delight, I found an antique Tibetan prayer wheel among the woven shawls, embroidered textiles and beautiful jewelry of the old market. With its bright enameled colors, etched metal and textile lining, it is a trend board in itself. It has inspired our product developers to achieve an incredible vision of a modern Shangri-La filled with colors, textures and scents of paradise.

Imagine a rustic pillow of woven raw silk next to a colorfully embroidered, smoke gray pillow. Picture a medallion so bold, it runs off the duvet cover and pops up on the shower curtain. Lift the candle jar lid detailed in fine metalwork and breathe in the Dolma Cedarwood fragrance. Lay back on a rustic, faux-yak Sherpa throw and pillow and gaze at the patterns tossed across the wall of your luxurious, secret yurt. This multi-layered collection is made to dazzle the senses and help you create the ultimate in modern, relaxing Shangri-Las.

Enjoy paradise.

Mei Xu
Creator & CEO

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