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Traditional Chinese Craftsmanship in a Modern Context

Jorge Arango

The prolific Chinese designer Robert Kuo has introduced a slew of new furniture and accessory pieces that continue his mission of marrying 21st-century design with craftsmanship that reflects traditional Imperial China. Raised in the Taiwanese cloisonné studio of his father, he has long worked in that craft’s two basic materials: copper and glass. His newest Peking glass vases ($1,250 to $1,500) require four to six layers of mouth-blown molten glass to achieve their jade-like luminosity. The Ju Wen six-drawer cabinet ($18,000) and Pleats buffet ($15,750) illustrate his signature repoussé copper work featuring a hand-hammered metal design. And the Low “T” and Low Round Cream tables ($12,600 and $10,200, respectively) showcase the labor-intensive lacquering he commissions from Chinese artisans. They get their sense of volume and their waxy smooth texture from 60 to 100 layers of individually applied and baked lacquer. Of course, no Kuo collection would be complete without a note of whimsy, here in the form of the white bronze Lotus Pod touchiere ($3,900), which reveals, aside from expert artisanship, a fondness for the work of François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne. (310.855.1555, www.robertkuo.com)

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