Zhu Xiaojie showcases his creations at the Xiaolou Art Space. Built for an immersive experience, his studio sits in the most intriguing arts and culture district of Shanghai
A testing ground for reforming and reopening the country, Shanghai previews the China of the future. China has been promoting the construction of several metropolitan areas intended as innovation spaces that the fruitful dialogue between research and private business will make culturally attractive and environmentally sustainable.
Shanghai West Bund, one of these testing areas, follows the urban master plan outlined in the “Shanghai 2035” project. West Bund is the largest art district in Asia, and its cultural drive are important institutions like the Long Museum, the YUZ Museum, the TANK Shanghai cultural hub established by contemporary art collector Qiao Zhibing, and the West Bund Museum designed by David Chipperfield, opened in 2019. Five panoramic ports and more than 80 hectares of parks will be added to the over 7 miles of boulevards lined with museums, galleries and exhibition halls that overlook that Huangpu river.
In such an extraordinary contest, at the latest edition of CIFF Furniture, Zhu Xiaojie, the most important, best-renowned Chinese designer – who loves to define himself as “the carpenter of design” – presented the Xiaolou Art (Decor) Space, his studio-showroom, whose last floor is dedicated to hospitality and exclusive dining.
Located at 3034 Longteng Avenue, Xiaolou (literally standing for “small palace”) blends design and art: not only is décor surrounded with sculptures and installations, but it also comes to life with performances by dancers and actors for an immersive, high-impact customer experience.
But Xiaolou is also a place that invites to slow down. Sofas, armchairs, stools, benches and chairs, which Zhu Xiaojie preferably created in wood, reveal all the charm and power of contemporary Asian crafts and design. Seats are meant as a chance to stop, an act of self-love to rebalance the relationship between nature and mankind. Just like in western design, the chair is the emblem of the evolution of living, and is just the perfect business card for anyone working as a décor designer. Zhu Xiaojie had designed some absolutely elegant pieces, inspired by the distinctive shapes of traditional furniture from the Sing and Ming dynasties.
Xiaolou is a “small” place built for big things. Like the infinite flight of the birds that swarm the showroom, recurring in several of his creations and recalling memories from his childhood, as he himself has revealed.
Zhu Xiaojie is not just a designer, but also a ceramist and an architect. He was the one who designed the Opal Furniture Studio in Wenzhou, which the AD magazine described as the most beautiful house in the world, and his ‘Agate Stones’ earned him the Red Dot Design Award.