2011 Trend Hunting

2010 will go down in the record books as the year Haibao took over Shanghai’s shrubbery, the Spanish invaded our restaurants and we lost all control over leggings. As we move into 2011, the outlook looks good – well, that’s what our Magic 8 Ball said anyway. We pulled clairvoyant rabbits out of hats, cracked open fortune cookies and, when all else failed, interrogated industry insiders in art, dining, fashion, music and property to find out the top 11 trends of 2011.

“Classic fine dining will ultimately leave the scene. People want good food in an informal setting for an affordable price – the future is smaller restaurants where the chef is there and consumers receive personal attention.”

- Siem Bierman & Onno Schreurs, co-founders of Dining City

Brad Turley, chef-owner of Goga agrees, forecasting a trend toward small neighbourhood restaurants helmed by experienced chefs.

“Two major international brands will come to Shanghai. They will be at the calibre of Nobu and Robuchon – super top names.”

- David Laris, chef and rampant restaurateur 

The prince of Shanghai’s dining scene goes on to say that The Michelin Guide will announce its first foray into China in 2011, coinciding with the big name guys who are already Michelin darlings – but the first guide won’t come out until 2012.

“After all the international imports of 2010, I think 2011 will see a return to local. There will be more of a focus again on strengthening Shanghai’s artists and institutions, rather than trying to go so global.”

- Lisa Movius, art, fashion and lifestyle journalist

In disagreement, Art Labor’s Martin Kemble believes the city can look forward to a slew of ‘good foreign shows’, while twocities’ Eva Ting sees a rise in contemporary Middle Eastern art.

“I think local Chinese designers will continue to proliferate and garner more attention, but largely fail to find much traction with either local or international consumers.”

- Lisa Movius

The fashion writer goes on to note that the exception to the rule will be affordable, well-designed products for the lower middle class.

“Property transaction volume will continue to slow and prices should stabilise in the short-term. However, if the government moves forward with the introduction of an annual property tax this spring as rumoured, a drop in prices is a possibility due to the tax being based on value.”

- Brent Beisher, owner of Build Property Management

Beisher, who also happens to be a former estate agent, thinks this is as good a time as any to invest in property.

“I think there will be a taste for retro in the form of '70s glamour; maxi dresses, bright colours, knitwear mixed with wool bottoms, and long luxurious locks.”

- Sandy Chu, Shanghai Style blogger

Chu’s prediction is parroted by fellow fashion blogger Heejung Jun (www.hee-j.com), who advises monochromatic girls “hit the colour” in 2011 and keep an eye out for maxi skirts.

”Live music will continue to expand, with bigger and better venues opening and thriving, while seeing more and more heavy music, along with the fast development of subcultures that reflect the national mood.”

- Archie Hamilton, owner of Split Works

The Split Works’ don is optimistic about the future of live music with Mao Livehouse’s Xu Dan agreeing that the city should see an expansion of both new venues and bands in the New Year.

“Mixed Martial Arts will make a huge impact on China next year, with people jumping onto the bandwagon, drawing similarities between traditional Wu Shu styles to create a new fighting system. The sport has seen an incredible growth in the West these past few years, and it looks like China is next.”

- Benoit Thebaut, managing director of Riviera Events

Could this be a Jai alai, pie-in-the-sky, Mad Men moment or will MMA really take off?

“2011 will be the year of the music festival… we will see more and more outdoor festivals popping up here, there and everywhere.”

- Cameron Wilson, founder of Void

Wilson is in agreement with Florian Luthi of Matt&Flo parties and Hamilton, who both think Shanghai will finally develop music festivals worthy of its status as a global city.

“I think import restrictions on cheese and bacteria cultures will loosen. Meaning more funky stuff for everyone and hopefully the ability to import cultures that will help us make cheese here on our own!”

- Austin Hu, executive chef of Madison

If we listen to Adam Levin, chef at Shanghai Slims, restrictions on USDA meat will also relax and 2011 will become “the year of the steakhouse.”

“Shanghai will see a growth in more academic, independently-curated shows thanks to institutions such as the Rockbund Museum, Minsheng Museum and newly opened Himalayas Museum.”

- Rebecca Catching, curator of OV Gallery

Events at these new museums are expected to generate more intellectual discourse, as will the newly-launched bilingual art-focused magazines.

Yesterday’s News


In 2010, artful entrepreneurs threw up “creative clusters” by painting cheap warehouses around the city orange and charging small rents to struggling artists. The Creative Clusters have been declared “nothing but government sponsored gentrification” by Rebecca Catching. Lisa Movius concurs, declaring the trend “a failure” that was over before it even began.

In other art news, Martin Kemble says politics will become completely irrelevant to contemporary Chinese art. “Finally, thank God – it’s like talking about food all the time when you can never take a bite,” he says.


Say goodbye to the Bund as we know it. The bastion of innovative cuisine in Shanghai will settle into a new role as a very mainstream tourist-driven location that lacks culinary imagination, according to David Laris. The Aussie admits to being a little defiant in the wake of his namesake restaurant’s controversial closing, but it seems like he just can’t help himself. He also prognosticates that at least one major name (in addition to his own) will leave its stalwart Bund position early next year.

Pleas from around town to quit jabbering about the “next Xintiandi” will hopefully be heard in 2011 when the new XTD-copycat complexes will sink or swim (we’re looking at you, Sinan Mansions). And, seriously, isn’t the city already out of heritage buildings to knock down so expats can make room for a new dining and drinking playground?


Sara Villareal, owner of The Villa, has one piece of advice for shoe-loving ladies this year. “Boots covered in fur are a definite NO. What are you, a caveman? There is a difference between boots with classy shearling around the ankle (like Burberry did this season) and boots that make you look ridiculous.” Point taken.

Remember how every luxury brand is staying in the black by flogging their wares to China’s new middle class? That could all end in 2011 as the nouveau riche’s taste become more discerning and sophisticated. Blindly buying big name labels is out. Small designers with interesting pieces are in. Get with the program.


Several music industry insiders are happy to see that trance finally bit the dust in 2010. Good riddance to glow sticks. Finally, with tongue somewhat in cheek, Archie Hamilton notes that Beijing’s position at the top of China’s musical tree has come to an end, usurped by Shanghai.

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