Shanghai is definitely a good example of the potency that China, as a whole, has become in the worldwide market. Of course, interior design and architecture are two areas included in this mix, so with that in mind today we’ve decided to gather a list of 10 of the best Shanghai designers and architects that have definitely managed to create a solid career either in their own country or on the global market.
Furong Chen created WUU in 2014, and since then it became a company focused on the developing of furniture, lighting and decorative accessories. Furong studied Integrated Design at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, and what led to the creation of his company consisted of a trip he took after graduating in 2012, in which he travelled with a group of friends across China in a van and interviewed local creatives for an exhibition that would lead to the creation of his firm. He has a design philosophy in which he aims to “return an object to its original essence” through design, while at the same time combining technology with traditional crafts.
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are the creators of this multitasking company, able to provide several services in areas such as architecture, master planning, branding/graphic design, and also in the design of interiors, furniture and other relevant products. Since 2004 the company has had an incredible evolution having its first office in Shanghai and opening a new one in London. Among some of their most relevant works, we can enumerate the restoration of a Shanghai theatre from the 30s, creating a hotel at the former headquarters of the Japenese army, and most recently, creating “The Unfolding Village” for the Stockholm Furniture Fair 2019.
This multi-faceted design practice was first established by Min Chen, who is specialized in areas such as object and technological products’ design and also interior architecture. The main aim of this office is finding an ideal bonding point between tradition and modernization as well as between east and west. Min is a person who regards design as a language with origins depth and story, and she also has the innovative idea of finding the role of Chinese language in the world of design. Her company has been featured in magazines such as wallpaper, Marie Clare, AD China, Brutus Casa, Icon and Elle Decor.
101 Design is led by Jennifer Lu who studied and took a Masters Degree at the Interior Design from Pratt Institute of New York. Their work range has reached China in general, including Taiwan and they often tackle challenges such as residential and commercial design solutions and interior decorating. This firm counts with a team of designers, project managers, site managers, while at the same time counting with several partnerships with various factory resources of furniture and fixture manufacturing. Their design style focuses very much on balancing all the elements that compose an interior that they handle, through the balanced use of white and green elements (plants included) as well as a familiar and somewhat minimalistic style.
Kokaistudios consists of a company first created by Italian architects Filippo Gabbiani & Andrea Destefanis in 2000, which would later evolve with the creation of a Shanghai office in 2002. This is the perfect example of a truly multi-cultural firm that has managed to establish a global presence with a series of projects such as Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America, mainly in cultural, corporate, commercial, hospitality & retail projects. Their aim is to create projects that add a positive element to the environment and social fabric of the location of said challenge, be it through architecture, urban renewal, hospitality, retail, among others. They definitely have a modern and geometrical taste in regards to the locations they’ve tackled.
Created in 1995, MRT design is an architectural and interior design studio with a deep experience regarding retail and public projects all of which are located throughout greater China. Their work has also been mentioned in prestige publications in the country, some of them being Interior Design China, AD, Elle, id+c and Surface. MRT Design has tackled a variety of establishments (residential, retail, restaurants, commercial, etc) and their style can either be modern and minimalistic or classic and elegant, with the special addition of some unique lighting effects in some projects.
This Shanghai-based multidisciplinary design studio is known for tackling many challenges relating to architectural, spatial, product, and furniture design. It was created in 2013 by Ian Douglas-Jones, whose extensive experience in architecture is the essence and basis of the studio’s output. They are a firm that likes to experiment with technology and other elements, is defined as having a “polymath approach” to new challenges. With less than 10 years of experience, they’ve managed to earn many relevant awards and honours, one of them being a part of A.D.’s Top 100 Most Influential Architects and Designers 2017.
HWCD (Harmony World Consultant and Design) is a very well-known international design practice, based in Shanghai, but with offices located in London and Barcelona. Since its creation, this company always had a goal set of creating a global practice firmly deeply rooted in the communities they tackle. With a team of over 500 design specialists, they have taken on several design projects, including urban design, commercial design, art consulting and even boutique hotels. Their style is a perfect reflection of how aware they are of the phenomenon of globalization while at the same time tackling some elements within the cultural context of the project location.
B+H is another design giant that chose Shanghai as one of the places to establish an office as well as take on several interior design projects. This is another example of a design firm deeply involved with the global market, aiming to design bold and inspiring spaces for clients of several locations. B+ H has a wide range of activities for establishments such as workplaces, healthcare, hospitality, residential, retail, among many more. The team always tries to approach a new challenge with careful insight and awareness of the needs and wants of each customer, believing firmly in the power of design as a potential strength to transform economies, communities, and of course, spaces.
Because the best is always for last, we finish this article with the third and final design “giant”, HKS Architects. This is another global design firm present in several places such as London, Miami, Orlando, NY, Singapore, and of course Shanghai. In the case of the office located here, aside from counting with a team of 1350 employees, since 2010, they have had an approach with several state-of-the-art design methods regarding their challenges. Among HKS’ most important accomplishments in China we can include Aiyuhua Hospital for Children and Women, Crowne Plaza Ningbo, Suzhou Gaoxin People’s Hospital, Hualuxe Haikou Seaview, among many others. This is a company with many types of clients, and aside from commercial, hospitality and private residences, they also have aviation, education, government, and sports clientele in their portfolio.