Friday, March 26, 2010

Shanghai Social Diary

7.39 am: Families arrive on the Bund in Shanghai to view the Solar Eclipse. The last time that the city experienced a solar eclipse of this magnitude (6 minutes, 39 seconds) was in 1575.
by Jeanne Lawrence

Shanghai ... The Hurun Report that publishes the “China Rich” list of tycoons—the local version of the Forbes 100 — invited me to a reception honoring the Shanghai hotels that offer the best “Presidential Suites.” (Winners are pictured below.)

The event coincided with the Asia Luxury Travel Market trade show that caters to China’s emerging wealthy class. It’s expected that 100 million citizens of the People’s Republic will be traveling abroad by the end of the decade.
Hurun Report hosts Shanghai's Best Presidential Suites Awards Ceremony. A scantily clad models showcasing extravagant jewelry paraded in front of the photo of President Lincoln, I wondered what he might be thinking!
As a former owner of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego with an ongoing interest in the hospitality business, I’m thinking what great news that is for the hotel industry.
The Hurun Report was founded over a decade ago by Rupert Hoogewerf, formerly of the U.K., who was among the first to recognize the tremendous business opportunities in China.

Hoogewerf also publishes Philanthropy List, Art List, Best of the Best List, Wealth Report, School Guides, Polo/Equestrian, Luxury Property, Watches, New Years Gifts, and Luxury Travel.

When I walked in, I was puzzled to see a huge poster of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Then I got it: the Presidential Suites.
The awards ceremony took place at the Portman Ritz-Carlton (Shanghai’s first five-star hotel that opened in 1990).
The Chinese tradition of signing the scroll - the equivalent of our guest books.
There are over 1800 hotels in Shanghai, and they keep going up! Among the newest luxury hotels: the Park Hyatt (at 101 stories, the tallest in China), the PuLi Hotel and Spa, and the Peninsula — all as posh as can be.

The historic Peace Hotel (once owned by the Victor Sassoon family) is being renovated by the LA architectural firm Hirsh-Bedner. (Small world: I once hired Michael Bedner to renovate my hotel.)

It will reopen in time for the May Shanghai Expo 2010–the latest World’s Fair. We lovers of historic hotels are hoping the renovations will bring back its previous glamour.
Wenjing Fei (of Hurun Report) and Jeanne Lawrence.
Peking Duck, from the lavish buffet, was my favorite.
Presentation of the Best Presidential Suites and Executive Club Lounges.
Sexy singing superstar Lin Bao (a.k.a. Naughty Lady) and dancer Li Lingxi performed.
Hyatt on the Bund - Most Panoramic View (Rooftop Terrace).
Park Hyatt - Most advanced Technology.
Four Season - Best Royal Living.
Intercontinental Shanghai Pudong - Best Classic Style.
Le Meridien Sheshan - Best View of Nature.
Le Royal Meridien - Best City View.
Pudong Shangri-La - Best River View.
Radisson Pudong Century Park - Best Minimalist Style (Zen).
St. Regis - Best New York Style.
The Portman Ritz-Carlton - Best Oriental Style.
Sofitel Sheshan - Best Luxury Bathroom.
The Longemont - The Most Modern Style.
Renaissance Shanghai Yuyan - Most Art Work.
Grand Hyatt - Best Art Deco Style.

Bund 18, formerly the headquarters of The Chartered Bank, is a restored 1923 Colonial neo-classical building that has won a UNESCO award of distinction.

The seven story Bund 18 houses luxury shops (Zegna, Patek Philippe, and Cartier), the Mr. and Mrs. Bund restaurant, Lounge 18 and Bar Rouge and more—all with breathtaking views of the Huangpu River.

Bund 18, a type of “lifestyle” or “mixed use entertainment” complex, offers luxury shops, dining, entertainment, and cultural experiences under one roof.
The newest addition is 18 Gallery. Art director/owner Paris-based Magda Danysz chose artist John Perello, a.k.a. JonOne, for her inaugural exhibition in Shanghai.

A premier “street artist,” JonOne grew up in New York City’s Harlem, influenced by its ubiquitous graffiti. Since the 80s, he’s been based in Paris, where he was in the graffiti show at the Fondation Cartier.

JonOne’s paintings call to mind Jackson Pollock, Jean Dubuffet, and even Henri Matisse. One guest commented that his ink-on-canvas style suggests a link between graffiti and traditional calligraphy.

Even with camera shutters clicking and video lens trained on him, JonOne, quite a showman, completed a painting during the party, to the great amusement of the invitation-only crowd. I guess street artists know how to work on the fly!

A lucky few of us were invited to dinner upstairs with JonOne at the new Mr. and Mrs. Bund restaurant, deservedly the talk of the town! Chef/owner Paul Pairet, previously with award-winning Jade 36 — celebrity chefs play musical chairs in Shanghai — call his new place a “modern eatery.”
A view of the famous waterfront called the Bund, lined with neo-colonial buildings.
Bund 18 won a UNESCO award for its historic renovation and preservation.
JonOne exhibition was the inaugural exhibition for the new 18 Gallery in Bund 18.
18 Gallery is the Shanghai sister of Galerie Magda Danysz in Paris.
During the reception, JonOne painted one of his graffiti inspired paintings - while we watched.
The colorful canvases, with their energetic strokes, convey the frenzy of cities like Shanghai and New York. This was a big opening and a big media event.
Yue-Sai Kan with art director Magda Danysz.
Antoine Barrère and Jeanne Lawrence with artist JonOne.
Yue-Sai Kan, JonOne, and Katrina Chang.
We walked upstairs to dinner at Mr. and Mrs. Bund, the new hot restaurant.
Shanghai Got Solar Eclipse Fever

I had a once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-this-world experience in Shanghai watching the total solar eclipse last July. The last time that the city experienced a solar eclipse of this magnitude (6 minutes, 39 seconds) was in 1575.

We watched the Shanghai Solar Eclipse at Lounge 18 in the building Bund 18.
A solar eclipse happens when a full new moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blocking its rays.

Shanghai was abuzz with expectation. Except for me. I didn’t even think about it until friends and friends of friends alerted me they were coming to town.

About 200,000 “eclipse-chasers” from around the world streamed into Shanghai for the event, creating a boomlet for local hoteliers and businesses.

Where to watch it? It was like trying to find a place for New Year’s Eve—everything was sold out! Vanna Teng, CEO of Bund 18, the neo-classical building housing luxury shops, restaurants and clubs, came to the rescue.

Vanna spontaneously decided to host an “Eclipse Breakfast” there and we had some of the “best seats” for viewing in Shanghai. She even provided us with Mylar eclipse glasses, which were sold out all over town.

Despite the pouring rain, we ran upstairs to the terrace, giggling like kids and watching awestruck, as the bright skies darkened and for a few minutes and the sun disappeared completely.

I was glad I was in the right spot at the right time. It will be 300 years before it happens again.
7.40 am: The eclipse and rush hour traffic collide.
7.45 am: The Bund under construction for the Shanghai EXPO 2010.
Shanghai is building a tunnel under the Bund to reroute traffic.
Many police were on duty for traffic watch and crowd control.
8.05 am: The French community wearing the 'sold out' special eclipse viewing glasses.
8.06 am.
8.07 am.
8.28 am.
8.36 am.
8.37 am.
8.38 am.
8.42 am.
8.44 am.
8.57 am.
9.03 am: It's over! Everyone heads out.
9.04 am: Soaked but worth the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We're ready for our eclipse breakfast at Lounge 18.
Breakfast: A choice of American, Continental, or Asian.
Alicia Framis and her son Ariel.
The lucky guests enjoyed one of the best seats in Shanghai for the viewing.
Artist Xiao Hui Wang under her artwork with Pam Kramlich and Maximin Berko.
The next Shanghai eclipse is in 300 years.

TED, the private nonprofit foundation Technology, Entertainment and Design, held one of its independent events (known as a TEDx) in Shanghai for the first time at the members-only club M1NT.

I had heard of TED, founded in 1984 and they invite world leaders who will shape our future to share their ideas as guest speakers, imposing a strict 18-minute time limit. When Shanghai’s Richard Hsu told me more, I was fascinated enough to sign up.
Participants have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Paul Simon, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck, and Bono.

Director Derek Muhs of M1NT private club (a sponsor) welcomes the crowd.
The conference topic was how social media and technology can influence the future. There’s no need for me to report what went on: It was streamed, blogged, and twittered without cease? “TED Talks” can be found at, on YouTube, ITunes, and now iPhone apps.

The seminar attracted heavy hitters. Young mogul Dan Gould, VP of technology at Fox Interactive Media and cofounder with Brian Norgard of NewRoo, was there. So was San Franciscan Adriana Gascoigne, founder of “Girls in Tech,” a social network organization focused on women in technology, and Dave McClure, George Godula and Christine Lu, who helped organize the group “Geeks on a Plane,” who toured Asia.

Though I have an MBA degree with an emphasis on computers, I have avoided Face Book, My Space, and Twitter. Who has time? I’d say. I’m on my laptop enough
But the TEDx seminar turned me around. I realized that social networking is now. If you don’t get with it, you’re left behind.

In fact, one of the speakers went so far as to say, “If it’s not in cyberspace, it didn’t happen.” That’s something to ponder over — for 18 minutes at least.
TEDx organizers - Christine Lu, Sage Brennan, and Richard Hsu.
I noticed a gal blogging earnestly on her red laptop. She turned out to be Christine Lu, who holds the Shanghai TEDx franchise. She blogs and tweets about China.
Adriana Gascoigne, founder of 'Girls in Tech.'
Jenny Bai and Richard Hsu.
Tina Tran and Defne Ayas.
"Geeks on a Plane," techies, many from Silicon Valley, flew in to attend TEDx, making stopovers in Beijing and Tokyo.
One unfortunate Geek, Michael Su, was quarantined at a Beijing hotel as he’d been sitting on the plane within two rows of someone who tested positive for the HIRI virus.
A musical interlude.
Lunch in the penthouse. Attendees in passionate conversations.
Andrew Yang (New York, Shanghai). Jeanne Lawrence and Christine Lu.
Jenny Bai, Tina Tran, and Larry Chiang.
Blogging away.
Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence. New York based Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in Shanghai and San Francisco, and wherever else she finds a good story.