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Michel Bertrand, a French art designer who has been working in Shenzhen for five years, said Chinese culture has given him a lot of inspiration for his work.
Bertrand came to Shenzhen in October 2012 to work as an art director for the Yang Bangsheng design group, a Shenzhen-based design company specializing in interior design for mainly five-star hotels all around China.
"Designing is a rather challenging job. We always want to make something new, something unique, something original," he said.
Bertrand worked with Yang for three years, "mostly working on finding new concepts, bringing into China the point of view that is mixing Chinese culture with Western culture."
"Working here, I was greatly interested by the traditional Chinese culture and the local art. For example, I studied a lot about the ethnic cultures of Li and Miao from Hainan to design for our hotels. At the same time, in Hainan Province I designed for the Hardrock Hotel, which was completely Western, and I tried to mix the cultures. I created the concepts, gave general ideas about the theme of the interior design of the hotel, its offices and restaurants," he recalled.
In 2014, he was invited to give a lecture at the "Creation 2014" conference in Changsha on the art of decoration in France to CEOs and heads from industries of real estate, interior design and design schools.
He left Yang to try something different two years ago. Currently he works at Oxstand International School as a music and fine arts teacher.
Last year, while working for a restaurant in Bao'an District, he brought in special Incan art from South America, which features very rich and beautiful designs.
"I wanted to explore it in Shenzhen, where the Incan art is still not so popular, and make my design different from those in Europe and America," he said. Bertrand also creates contemporary artwork during his spare time and has presented his works at three exhibitions with other expat artists in Shenzhen.
"I am inspired a lot by China. Even my style is different from what I was thinking before. Shenzhen is an amazing city. With so many creative people, it is alive, evolving and unique in the world. It has so many beautiful places, nice art exhibitions and concerts all the time," he said.
He added that he loves Shenzhen and loves to be with Chinese people. "It's a natural feeling. It's interesting that every time I go back home to France I have to adapt to it and when I come back here, I feel quite at home. I can't explain the reason why." Bertrand came from Dieppe in Normandy, which is famous for being where Impressionist master Claude Monet painted the seaside in a village called Varengeville.
Bertrand has found that the number of Chinese students learning French is growing.
"It's interesting to see that now in China, foreign language study is not limited just to English. More people, even the elderly, want to explore other languages. In Chinese schools, students now have more choices to learn other languages such as French, Italian, Spanish or German."