Saturday, July 13, 2024

Jingdezhen: China’s porcelain capital draws digital nomads, luxury brands

Must read

What happened

Jingdezhen, located in Jiangxi Province, has joined the ranks of Dali City in Yunnan and Anji in Zhejiang as a popular destination for China’s growing number of digital nomads.

“During three months of wandering in Jingdezhen, I learned how to mold clay and blow glass, and also that I should let go of my attachments,” says Xiaohongshu user Sticky Scented Lemon (@糯糯香香香柠檬).

Known as the heart of China’s porcelain legacy, Jingdezhen has been a treasure trove of cultural heritage and artistic prowess for over a millennium. Artisans here have honed their skills, crafting porcelain masterpieces characterized by blue decoration on a white background, which have graced the tables of emperors and adorned the homes of connoisseurs worldwide.

Young people coming to Jingdezhen to attend pottery workshops. Image: @一级鸭鸭's Xiaohongshu
Young people coming to Jingdezhen to attend pottery workshops. Image: @一级鸭鸭’s Xiaohongshu

According to the Jiangxi Department of Culture and Tourism, over 8 million tourists visited Jingdezhen during China’s week-long National Day holiday in 2023, and in a city of only 417,687 residents there are over 30,000 temporary residents, like Sticky Scented Lemon.

Many of these newcomers have quit their jobs, to escape from the grueling metropolis and stroll around villages characterized by low-rise buildings and no oppressive skyscrapers, seeking a more peaceful environment and laid-back lifestyle. These outsiders are taking ceramics classes there to create their own pottery, and some who have learned these skills are even making a living by selling their creations.

The Jing Take

Jingdezhen has become not only a mecca for young Chinese nomads, but also a place for brands to intertwine Chinese cultural elements into their offerings.

For the Year of Dragon, luxury perfume label Byredo collaborated with Shanghai-based design duo, studio Kae, to present a series of Coming Home homewares handcrafted in Jingdezhen. The collection aimed to celebrate the tradition of Chinese people returning to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year to reunite with their families and dine together.

For the Year of Dragon, luxury perfume label Byredo collaborated with Shanghai-based design duo, studio Kae, to present a series of Coming Home homewares handcrafted in Jingdezhen. Image: Byredo
For the Year of Dragon, luxury perfume label Byredo collaborated with Shanghai-based design duo, studio Kae, to present a series of Coming Home homewares handcrafted in Jingdezhen. Image: Byredo

In 2022, Spanish luxury brand Loewe received praise for its monochrome ceramics-themed exhibition at the ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, which presented Deng Xi Ping’s porcelain artworks. The brand also sponsored the creation of a new monochrome ceramics educational program at the Jingdezhen Ceramic University to preserve this ancient craft and its cultural heritage.

Notably, the video of the collaboration posted on Loewe’s official Weibo was played 7.93 million times, making it one of the most successful and viral brand activations blending Chinese culture.

China has always been known as the “country of porcelain.” In ancient times, ceramics played a crucial role linking culture between China and the West. Hence, pottery-related brand activations are particularly popular among patriotic domestic consumers.

With Jingdezhen gaining prominence as a destination, landlords there have hiked rents to capitalize on the influx of travelers. Prior to the Chinese New Year holiday this year, accommodations were fully reserved well in advance, with prices for a single night’s stay soaring from under thirty dollars up to more than two hundreds.

Given the town’s rising living costs and tourism boom, digital nomads may be on the lookout for their next destination. However, Jingdezhen’s rich legacy will endure. With home furniture demand surging in China, the city will serve as a source of inspiration for brands’ lifestyle offerings and facilitate cultural exchange for years to come.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

Latest article