Shrine
Furniture Design

Summary

I drew inspiration from my Chinese heritage to design and build a piece of furniture which encompassed the values of ancestor worship, such as family, tradition, and Confucianism.

Drawing From The Past

Ancestor worship is an ancient tradition, which is still practiced today by my family. I was inspired by the rich culture behind these rituals, and wished to understand its significance in modern society. To embrace this experience, I wanted to create a piece of furniture which embodied the traditional aspects of ancestor worship, but also reflected the modernized ritual from a Chinese American.

Ancient Meets Modern

Ancestor worship brings the family together; thus, I wanted to create a piece that did exactly that. My initial concepts drew upon personal experiences of gathering in the dining room to pray in front of the shrine on the mantel. I drew elements from Chinese history, inspired by the proportional form, intricate carvings, and the fusion of organic and geometric shapes. I wished to simplify the elements of Chinese ornamentation by developing my own meaning, one originating from my background as a Chinese American.
I explored form, incorporating the paper money leaflets that are commonly burned during ancestor worship to symbolize sending gifts. I visited a local oriental furniture store, and was inspired by the traditional and contemporary pieces displayed. I sketched ideas ranging from urns formed from geometrical symbols, to tables integrating linearity with the organic aspect of the paper money.
After many iterations, I chose to focus on shrine furniture, for it was the unifying piece between family and ancestors. The shrine integrated geometric elements (inspired by Han dynasty art), traditional Chinese furniture designs, and the paper money leaflets.

The Details

I was fascinated by the temple gates when I visited China, and I wished to bring that aspect into my design by creating the temple-like front façade. The leaflets are incorporated along the sides of the piece, weaving seamlessly from the top base to the bottom body. The top base bevel and the angled legs allow the eyes to follow the piece continuously. The proportion of the body to leg ratio is approximately 1:1, which reflects the symmetry often found in Chinese furniture.

Development

Building this piece required significant amount of preparation. I first had to find the right wood to use. Rosewood is commonly used in Chinese furniture; however, it is very rare and expensive. I explored cheaper options, perhaps even using contemporary woods to signify the integration of Western and Eastern elements. I chose mahogany with black cherry stain, which mimicked the dark and rich color seen in Chinese furniture and brought out the beautiful grain of the wood.

Another issue was the design of the cabinet doors. From the rendering, the sides follow the 5 degree angle from the legs. However, this is not feasible if the doors are swinging outward. I decided to make a separate triangular piece that would allow the cabinets to swing freely at 90 degrees.

Final Design

I wanted the piece to reflect not only who I was, but also the experience of ancestor worship. The front view resembles the foundations of Chinese culture, inspired by the temple-gate form and large cabinet doors. However, as an observer walks around the piece, he will see the leaflets, a subtle accent that brings life to the modern form.
Admin Announcements

Admin Announcements

Content Management App

Product Catalog

Product Catalog

Admin Management App

Habitat

Habitat

Zero-Waste Living

Dressy Mobile App

Dressy

Formalwear Rental Service

Dr. EMS

DR. EMS

Medical Triage System

Shrine

Shrine

Furniture Design