Spotlight: Daniel Sun, Cofounder of de shanghai

By Phoebe Kut, November 14, 2019

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Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the creative scene. This month we speak with Daniel Sun who is the cofounder of de shanghai.


There’s a certain whimsy and nostalgia about vintage prints. Lifestyle brand de shanghai reproduces charming, old Shanghai fabric prints onto an array of products ranging from enamel mugs, folders, stationery and more. We spoke with Daniel Sun, the cofounder and designer behind the brand.

Can you tell us how the concept of de shanghai started?
I came across these fabrics during a visit to Chongming Island, and was fascinated by how the fabric itself served as folk art that unfolded a unique story of Shanghai.

de-shanghai-print.jpg
Image via de shanghai

How did your affinity for vintage Shanghainese prints come about?
Most of the fabrics I collected were handmade during the Cultural Revolution. The colors were bright and bold, and the designs were very intricate. This bright, intricate boldness was a testament to the Shanghainese longing for a beautiful, modern lifestyle during the time when China was closed off to the world. The story of that desire was a direct and genuine one.

How do you decide which products to release the prints on?
We have a cafe located in ‘de shanghai home’ and many of the products I design suit the cafe’s environment and are meant to be used for daily life. I work mostly from my own intuition.

de-shanghai-pillow.jpgImage via de shanghai

What sets de shanghai apart?
It’s different. de shanghai is not trying to be someone or follow a trend. In a fast-growing, compact city, it seems you can’t go wrong with a monochromatic, minimalist style that is widely accepted as fashionable. But I believe memory plays an important role in our daily life. These beautiful patterns and floral curtains of our grandparents’ homes have a way of evoking sentimental, sweet memories. I simply reconstruct this kind of memory and feeling for modern use.

Which products are currently most popular?
The shopping bag and the enamel mug – practical and chic.

WechatIMG75.jpeg
Image courtesy of de shanghai

Who is the ideal de shanghai customer?
Everyone! We don’t pick our customers. Our customers pick us.

Do you have plans to expand outside of Asia?
I’d like to tell the stories of these special Shanghai floral patterns first, so I recently started a gallery and shop to showcase the history. I’m hoping more and more people can share the concept of ‘de shanghai’ – and decorate their lives with Shanghai’s beautiful history.


For more Spotlight posts, click here. For more about de shanghai, check out their website here

[Cover image courtesy of de shanghai]

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