Chinese New Year Reminders for Visual Merchandisers and Graphic Design Designers
For more than two years, it was uncomfortable for me whenever the Chinese New Year is coming because of these reasons:
I am a Filipino and Christian, I have no background about Chinese characters and Feng Sui; and I usually make more than 20 different designs to choose from and do multiple revisions for one Chinese New Year paper bag design because of my little understanding about Chinese culture.
The good thing is that “In every problem, there is a solution.” That is what we are paid for, to provide solution to the problem, not to complain whenever problems comes. My co-workers and I did a little research online and offline.
Needless to say, Chinese has a lot of symbolism. Here are some things we learned, things to remember for Chinese New Year:
1. There are 12 animals associated in every Chinese year – the so called the Chinese Zodiac. These are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig in cycle. The year 2011 is the year of rabbit but our challenge for this year is to create a CNY display without using a figure or image of rabbit.
2. There are four flowers associated with the four seasons: Peony for Spring, Lotus for Summer, Chrysanthemum for Autumn and Plum Blossom for Winter. Chinese New Year falls on Spring Season which usually happens in February. When displayed together, the bamboo grass, pine tree, and plum blossom symbolizes happiness and endurance in old age. To minimize expenses, we incorporated recycling on producing this year’s CNY display. Old poster for the leaves of the pine tree and bamboo grass for example.
3. Narcissus, known as the “water fairy” is a flower associated with the Chinese New Year other than plum blossoms and peony. Other plants and flowers that are associated with Chinese New Year are orange, lime, cock’s comb, phoenix tail, jade plant, orchid, azalea, pussy willow and pineapple.
4. Red is a lucky color for Chinese people and is believed to ward off evil spirit especially during Chinese New Year. Red is oftentimes complemented with gold or yellow.
5. The famous mountain in China with pine forest, strange rock formation, cloud sea and hot spring that is usually seen on Chinese paintings and CNY display is known as Yellow Mountain or Mt. Huangshan.
6. The Carp or Koi in Japanese symbolizes prosperity and wealth; goldfish is the descendant of Carp. The carp is usually displayed together with lotus and water splash. Water and gold are symbols for money.
7. If you are not familiar with Chinese characters, don’t forget to ask Chinese people, who are literate bout it, before using any of the characters. Take note that not all Chinese people know how to read Chinese characters.
Number 9 (everlasting), 8 (wealth and expresses the totality of the universe), 7 (togetherness), 6 (everything will go smoothly), 5 (the five elements – water, wood, fire, earth and metal) 3 (birth) and 2 (good things come in pair) are for good luck and number 4 (death) is for bad luck. So we applied these numbers on our display. Chinese shed with five pillars and six trusses, seven or three bamboos and eight mandarins in a set for example.
If you have noticed, I mention more about display. However, the same symbolism is applied in graphic design. You can also share with us what else the things to remember about Chine New Year as comment.