Jia-Jia-at West Market Hotel is always evolving. It never stays the same -- be it its guests, designs or employees/interns. In this season, I am the one of the third wave of international interns at Jia-Jia. This time round, Jia-Jia has interns from Thailand, America, France and Singapore (Me!).
Marc, Kevin and I at Chigu Salt Mountain, Tainan
Being one of the interns here who is able to use Mandarin, I was tasked to translate blog posts of the previous batches of interns. As I read their blog posts about Tainan and Jia-Jia, there are parts which I agree on and sections which I disagree with. Even though everyone has the same opportunity of working as an intern at Jia-Jia, our experiences are vastly different. I guess this is because Jia-Jia is always changing, and also because everyone perceives the same experiences differently due to our different backgrounds.
Now, let me talk about my view of Jia-Jia.
Exterior View of Jia-Jia-at West Market Hotel
~What Jia-Jia is ~
Arts and Culture has not been a main part of many of Singaporeans’ lives until recently. To me, Arts is something I often perceived as impractical and beyond my understanding. As such, I would never have thought the concept of Jia-Jia, a designer hotel, would appeal to me. To be honest, I did not know much about this hotel until I started my internship.
Jia-Jia’s mission is to “make art practical, accessible, and vivid in everyday life”. At first glance of the hotel, I would never have thought that they would succeed in their goal. Sure, they have themed rooms, designer rooms and lots of “artsy stuff”. However, after learning about the stories behind the rooms, as well as having the opportunity to experience it, it slowly grows upon me as I see how they bring art to life. The stories add depth to the room and bring value to the designers’ works.
A designer room in Jia-Jia-at West Market Hotel
One of my favourite artwork was the Tree Stairs with its reflective metal material. Designed by Fujimoto-san (Sou Fujimoto, an award-winning Japanese designer), it was intended to bring in the beautiful view of the grand hundred-year old (or more) tree that stood beside Jia-Jia’s building to decorate the hotel’s interior design. Unfortunately, part of the tree has fallen and it is now only two-storey tall. Although the Tree Stairs can no longer reflect the tree such that it creates the atmosphere of walking in a forest, it now reflects the West Market view onto its wall and beautify the hotel. This is my favourite artwork because I find the concept of using the natural surroundings to add colour to an interior design immensely interesting. Besides, this artwork changes every second as the sun moves across the sky from dawn to dusk. Where else can you find such animated artwork without a hint of technology used? Amazing.
In a way, this artwork is also very representative of what Jia-Jia is about. Why do you think Jia-Jia is named as “Jia-Jia-at West Market Hotel”? This is because we want to remember our roots and be able to integrate well with our surroundings. Where Jia-Jia is right now used to be part of the West Market, which is one of the most crowded market when Taiwan was under the Japanese Rule. Just like how the themed rooms are all different parts of Tainan’s culture, Jia-Jia captures our location’s history in our very own name.
The West Market was famous for its trade of salt, sugar and cloth. As such, there are many tailor shops in the West Market. This has influenced the classes that Jia-Jia organizes, such as Making your Own Qi Pao Experience and Artisanal Shoe-Making Classes. We collaborated with those older generation still working in the tailor shops at the West Market for our classes. This is so as to promote our culture and to remember the history of the location Jia-Jia is situated upon.
So to sum up, Jia-Jia is what its surroundings is and was. It is always changing, but it will also remember its roots.