Heather & March Focus
Traditional holidays are all about pomp and circumstance, and nowhere is that more evident than Hong Kong during Lunar New Year. The age-old practice of discarding the old and welcoming the new reigns supreme at this time of year, but creating a festive atmosphere that harmonises modern living and the tradition of the Chinese holiday is harder than it looks.
Given the fortuitous occasion, colours like red and gold become ubiquitous along with an abundance of calligraphy signage and zodiac cartoons. If you want to welcome the Year of The Fire Rooster with a little more subtlety, Wendy Siu has a few tricks. Here, the founder of Heather & March shows us how to strike that perfect balance between honouring traditions and maintaining a refined style.
Go Easy on Crimson Colours
“Lunar New Year is such a traditional holiday, so we have less flexibility compared to Christmas when it comes to choosing the appropriate colour scheme,” Wendy Siu says. “Red, gold and silver always work, and any highly saturated shades that radiate happiness.”
Most people think of red as the default colour for Lunar New Year, but having all-red everything is clearly not the way to go. Purple could be a more neutral shade that still symbolises good fortune, and can be used all year round. Go with a bright purple like the shade pictured in this setup to communicate auspiciousness. Always avoid black: symbolising death, it's bad luck. The number four is also to be avoided, as it sounds like the word for death - respect cultural etiquette by keeping things in threes and fives and using bright colours.
Load on the Patterns
The New Year signals the arrival of springtime, a period of renewal and prosperity. To get you and your guest into the same hopeful mindset, fine porcelain with elegant motifs of botanicals and nature will do the trick. The Paradis collection from Raynaud fits the bill perfectly. The exquisite Limoges porcelain collection, a collaboration with revered British wallpaper design firm Fromental, depicts birds of paradise, exotic plants and butterflies on a shimmery turquoise and white background which conveys happiness and new beginnings.
An East-Meets-West Charm
Honouring a traditional Asian holiday doesn’t mean you must serve everything in blue-and-white porcelain. Having dinnerware that has a classic Western presentation — enriched by a bit of Eastern flair — can instantly make your table setting very current. The French hand-painted ceramic vase depicts a traditional Chinese peony, bringing harmony to an East-meets-West table setting. The above Raynaud collection is designed by Hippolyte Romain, an illustrator and painter passionate about Chinese culture. The gorgeous silhouettes in an elegant red tone are inspired by both Chinese and French culture, creating a sophisticated and modern way to serve a traditional Chinese pudding. The traditional but casual Tang form and shape combine with the modern motifs to create a cosmopolitan feel: with its simple and sleek design, you can use this set well beyond the festive period.
Put a Lid on It
However, one thing should be in keeping with tradition: the Chinese enjoy many hot drinks and dishes during this holiday, and it will be wise to display soup bowls that come with lids. To be creative, sugar bowls can also be repurposed as vessels for custard, fruit stews and various sweet concoctions.
Use Neutral Lucky Signs
Everyone knows it’s the Year of The Rooster, but being so literal about the theme is not really necessary. After all, showcasing motifs for every single animal in the Chinese zodiac means you’ll have to own a whole zoo.
Instead, stick with neutral animal iconography that always symbolises good luck, such as koi, goldfish, dragons and horses. These “evergreen” animals work for every Lunar New Year, and will always remain stylish. Goldfish are the easiest way to incorporate good luck into your decoration as this popular image pops up everywhere, while dragons and horses represent good energy and health - however, some people are superstitious about the clash of the zodiac signs, so be aware of this old custom. Siu suggests sticking with metallic or matte textures to keep things classy.
Think Outside the Box
For Siu, the confectionery box is one of those traditional elements that can be replaced. “A tiered tray is much more unpredictable and sleek, and offers a fresh presentation to the treats,” she says. Another stylish touch is using a star-shaped porcelain bowl — the unusual shape adds an element of modernity to the setup.
Go Full Bloom
“Having the appropriate flowers is a very important element to show that this occasion is different than an ordinary dinner party,” Siu says. Classic flowers during Lunar New Year are peach blossoms, peony, jasmine, orchids, cat-tail and silver willow, lucky bamboo and red, purple or gold chrysanthemum.
Birds are seen by the Chinese as a prosperous sign due to their lively nature. This lovely Chinese cup and saucer from Raynaud will bring a bit of life and cuteness to your table setting.
All products mentioned are available at the Heather & March flagship store, 216-218, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central. For more aspirational decor ideas, follow Heather & March on Instagram and Facebook.
Photographed by Jonathan Maloney and Inga Beckmann; Styling by Wendy Siu