Belgian jewelry designer Jehanne de Biolley and her husband Harrison Liu – furniture designer, actor and opera singer – live with their two children in a traditional hutong in Beijing. Their family renovated the 600-year-old Nianhua Temple, of the Ming dynasty, without altering any details of the historical design. The western influences in the apartment are discreet and create a harmonious symbiosis of East and West, just like the couple themselves.
The temple’s grand red pillars are the backdrop for the family’s brightly decorated Christmas tree. Though not an official public holiday, Christmas is becoming increasingly popular in China, and is a Liu-de Biolley family tradition. The festive table is traditionally arranged with an untraditional balance of Eastern- and Western-inspired tableware. Each year, Jehanne serves Peking duck with her favorite pumpkin dish and a strong, clear soup.
New Year’s Eve marks the most famous Chinese festival in the world. The creative couple celebrates a truly cosmopolitan New Year's Eve with an international group of friends. The group consists of eight people, since the number eight is believed to be lucky in Chinese culture. The dinner includes tofu with roasted sesame seeds and Tou Liang Huan Ju Stuffed Ribs – a traditional Chinese dish – atop Amazonia tableware. The celebration ends with colorful fireworks at midnight, along with a parade of dancers in dragon and lion costumes, who chase away old spirits.
The former library of the Ming temple now hosts their studio, which is an aesthetic reflection of the counterbalance between cultures. Jehanne’s art has been inspired by her travels around Asia, as well as the shapes and colors of the Song and Ming dynasties. Harrison’s design philosophy is influenced both by Asian culture and the minimalistic, formal language of Western culture.