BertO listening to Shanghai. 10 questions from Italy, 10 answers from China.

There are many ways to approach Shanghai and China, as we have already affirmed.

We at BertO think that the best and most correct way, whether in general terms or in a commercial approach, is simply …..to listen.

We have always done things in this way, the communication of our brand name always starts by listening, then comes the development in our Showrooms, on the social networks, by telephone with a client or with a couple of newly-weds who call our Customer Care Service on Skype.
It’s only a detail.

But the conversation which follows is not just a detail: it’s part of a progressive project aimed at getting closer to the great Asian continent, particularly to China and – even more – to the city of Shanghai.

In this occasion our listening is in the form of an interview, a chat with a local person who knows very well our particular field and our society: the designer and business developer Anna Lin, professionally active for 24 years in the field of design and high fashion.

This is what she tells us 🙂

Anna Lin - BERTO为SHANGHAI

What is your relationship with the city of Shanghai?

Wonderful! I have had the opportunity of creating and promoting Italian societies and I must say that we work together very well.

If we say “Italy” to an inhabitant of Shanghai, what do they think?

I think that for an inhabitant of Shanghai, Italy reflects the atmosphere and the philosophy of the Italian way of life: knowing how to live and enjoy life and, above all, elegance.

And what about the furnishing products created in our country, what do they think about it?

Also the furnishing confirms the lifestyle… furnishing is probably what most represents the way of life in a particular time and place such as our home in the free time we are able to dedicate to ourselves and our family and friends.

There are many famous brand names in China. How do they consider a small niche brand like BertO?

The name of BertO is not considered small at all…. the perception of this brand is not small because it represents the Italian way of life so strongly. For this reason it is seen as a great brand name.

What does comfort mean in Shanghai?

For a Chinese person “comfort” now means just being themselves.
Maybe in the past it was more an idea of simply being able to relax.


But for today’s young people it’s different. For them comfort has a psychological aspect connected to a particular life style. However, on the other hand Shanghai is an extremely international city with a much more open and receptive way of life.

When we speak of comfort the inhabitants are much more demanding regarding materials, form and, above all, good taste. We are talking about the most advanced city in China.

The Chinese idea of aesthetics seems to be very different from our European, and particularly Italian, idea. Is there really so much difference between our concept of beauty?

The answer is different if we consider China as a whole or Shanghai in particular. If we mean only China, then yes, this difference does exist, but if we are speaking of Shanghai the idea of aesthetics is much more similar to our European taste.

Is Italian design known and appreciated?

In the cities Italian design is very much appreciated.

For an Italian the concept of “home” is something fundamental, basic and very strong, maybe even more so than in other countries. Can we find the same significance for the family, the home and warmth also in Shanghai?

Here I must specify one thing which is not particularly positive: local professional people work too much!
For this reason they often neglect their homes and the time they spend there. However there is a growing concept of “status”, to show off in front of family and friends.
A beautiful home is considered to be a sign of a good social position.

There is also a growing concept of a home which offers inspiration, a vision which satisfies a person’s personal pleasure. This is something which is already common in Italy and in Europe and it is slowly emerging also in Shanghai.

We are used to thinking of a living room with a sofa, chairs and supporting surfaces. What about a traditional Chinese home?

This is very amusing: the living rooms are really small!
They are nothing like in an average Italian home but Chinese living rooms, always separated from the kitchen, have a sofa, no longer than 2 metres, and one or two small armchairs.

In some cases – over the last 10 years – they are building homes with just one single open space. Because of the limited dimensions the room is usually dedicated to free time and friends but not to having meals together as is frequent in Italy.

There just isn’t enough room.

In your opinion, what does the everyday life in Italy, in China and especially in Shanghai have in common?

According to me, it’s not simple to make a distinction. It depends a lot on which part of the population we are considering.
There is a great variety in the different life styles not forgetting that the population of Shanghai is almost half the population of Italy.

If I had to mention just one characteristic, I would say that the city is open to all types of culture.
And the same applies to fashion and trends.

What is the biggest difference between an average day for a Chinese person and that of someone in our country?

Apart from the normal cliché, people who are born and bred in Shanghai are super-dedicated to work and they have very long working days.

But considering that about 70% of the inhabitants come from other parts of China, there is a more relaxing attitude towards work.

Apart from all this, life is extremely expensive and this has a big influence at all levels.
Interesting, isn’t it?

We would like to remind you of the important date during Design Week in Meda on the 10th April for the kick-off of the project Berto为Shanghai…

Our Society’s journey towards the great China and mythical Shanghai will start on that day.
Wishing us all a good journey!

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