Multicultural flair

An exceptional destination for the upcoming Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai and the best of Made in Italy, the city is seething with local and international creativity

Books above Clouds by Wutopia Lab. Photo © CreatAR Images

A multicultural hub, a kaleidoscope of different architectural styles, an ideal bridge to the western world. Shanghai is a city of a thousand faces and facets, mixing the traces of the glorious 1930s with the hints of an ancient tradition, all seasoned by touches of creative brilliance of the contemporary scene. Strolling through its districts means getting influenced by different sensibilities, which combine to formulate a new expression of design.

Bund Finance Centre by Foster + Partners & Heatherwick Studio. Photo © Laurian Ghinitoiu

We run into the boundless creativity of Wutopia Lab, for example, busy with an “urban humble space regeneration plan” starting with the culture and lifestyle of the city: the latest masterpiece by the duo Yu Ting & Min Erni is the Books above Clouds bookstore on the 52nd floor of the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in the metropolis. Crossing the Bund Finance Centre we can see the encounter between pure tradition and wide-ranging internationalism, thanks to a project of 420,000 square meters by Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio, culminating in the arts and cultural center inspired by traditional Chinese theaters. All the charm of ‘old Shanghai’ has been captured by UNStudio in the facade of the shopping center, in a sparkling array of diamond-shaped panels.

Shopping Center by UNStudio. Photo © Hufton + Crow

From architecture to interior design, creativity is also displayed in the recent decor projects that enhanced the widest range of locations: the futuristic Shattered Holiness movie theater designed by Scale Art Design + CROX with Botta Lai and C.R.LIN; the refined and purist Bar Lotus by Office AIO or the metropolitan pet store The Animal Backbone by I.F.S.E. SPACE CREATIVE LAB – all candidates for international honors like the INSIDE World Festival and the Dezeen Awards.

The Shattered Holiness by Scale Art Design + CROX with Botta Lai and C.R.LIN. Photo © 2019 Botta Lai
The animal backbone di I.F.S.E. SPACE CREATIVE LAB. Photo © Zheng Shi

This is also the setting for one of the major local and international events that makes design its main asset, devoting this year’s edition precisely to the notion of ‘creative genius.’ We’re talking about the Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai (organized in collaboration with FederlegnoArredo Eventi and ICE Agenzia), which arrives in town for its 5th appearance (20-22 November): continuing with its mission as a cultural and business bridge between Italy and China, the fair brings as many as 128 of the finest brands of Made in Italy to the Shanghai Exhibition Center, split into the categories Design and xLux; while from the ‘mother’ fair in Milan, it borrows the installation DE-SIGNO. The art of Italian design before and after Leonardo, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci: an evocative narrative the retraces the importance of cultural exchanges, an important theme in Leonardo’s time, and one that is even more crucial today.