I managed to convince Herr Hubby to come and window shop with me at Phinns Casa, a high-end lifestyle store in Guangzhou specializing in premium antiques, quality furniture, home accessories and fine art, simply because I had heard so much about it. Once I spotted a flyer in our residential compound’s clubhouse, I thought, that’s it, I’m dragging him kicking and screaming out there.
I thought I had a pretty clear idea where the shop location was, but we still ended up getting lost and after a half hour of asking for directions, we finally found the (well-hidden) shop. Yay!
For all his initial reluctance to go, Herr Hubby ended up enjoying himself as much as I did. One thing we do share is a love for artfully mixing an eclectic combination of Western interiors and European-designed furniture (especially Italian & Scandinavian) with Chinese and other Asian furniture and accent pieces.
Meantime, I was beside myself with excitement! Once we entered the cavernous Phinns Casa showroom, a young lady emerged and handed us a form with a pencil. This was in case we spotted anything we liked, then all we had to do was jot down the item number. How thoughtful! I hated disappointing her since we were only there to browse…
And browse we did! Their showroom sprawled out over two storeys. On the first floor, amongst the jumble of furniture, treasures and knick knacks, they had carefully curated and “staged” sets showcasing their furniture, home decor and accessories collections, e.g. a living room, a dining room, a study, a bedroom, a child’s bedroom, etc. Very clever. You could so easily imagine the “sets” in your own tropical home (or, beach house) that you simply wanted to buy the entire set! Oh, desire and longing magnified…!
On the second floor were more jumbles of furniture strewn about but what surprised me was some wooden furniture were simply left out in the open (a section of the second floor had no walls) and were completely exposed to the humid Guangzhou air and ferocious sunshine!
Then, we stumbled upon an enclosed room with a sign that said:” Collectors’ Items”. Here they had stored all the majorly SERIOUS items; I guess these were all genuine Chinese antiques. All were labeled meticulously, mostly 18th century, in beautiful woods such as elm and oak and with stratospheric prices to match, ranging from USD 10,000 per piece to USD 20,000 per piece and even upwards. You couldn’t help but touch these pieces reverently.
Photography was not allowed in the showroom, including the Collectors’ Items room, but I took a few surreptitious snaps with my iPhone anyway (couldn’t help it!):
Downstairs, Herr Hubby had his eye on this handsome bar counter below- which I must admit would look really good in our Guangzhou apartment’s dining room, where we’ve already placed our wine refrigerator and bar cart trolley, and this could do double duty as a buffet sideboard:
I was absolutely tickled by this gorgeous, French country style wooden writing desk below which had a NAME! And guess what it’s name was: DIANE. Yes, isn’t it just insanely apt???
By far the most astounding piece we saw in there was this eye-catching Chinese bridal carriage:
Get a load of the intricate carvings on the doors:
Then, when the doors are opened…voila! The bridal carriage does not contain a nearly-suffocated bride but actually transforms into a very unique bar, with shelving especially made for storing bottles:
Here’s what the bridal carriage-bar looks like in someone’s living room (I swiped this photo below from the Phinns Casa catalogue). Although the carriage exterior is slightly different from the one we saw in the showroom, we can still see what a striking conversation piece it makes. According to the catalogue, one of my neighbors in our compound (who obviously has a lot of dough to drop) actually has this thing in their friggin living room, can you believe it?
I’d probably be a bit freaked out though if I had that sitting in my living room, especially at night. I’d always be imagining some poor ghost bride trapped in there just waiting to jump on me and scare me to death!
Anyway, so that capped off our highly imaginative and entertaining visit to the Phinns Casa showroom. Here’s how to get there: the showroom is located inside the Yangcheng Creative Zone, a funky but somewhat dilapidated art and design area in Tianhe district. Just get on Huangpu Dadao and head off in the direction of Metro supermarket and the B&Q big-box store. By cab from Zhujiang New Town, expect to pay RMB 30 or thereabouts (about USD 5). The Guangzhou metro does not go that way at all; there are numerous buses from what we saw but we didn’t explore that option.
The Yang Cheng Creative Zone entrance is sandwiched between the B&Q and a gas station. The first thing you will see is an Acura car sales showroom (funny thing to have in a creative zone, but well…). You will also see this sign:
So…will you be checking out Phinns Casa anytime soon? What will you buy???