We feature Grasse County designed by Chou Shuyu and Xiangshan Qingqin residential project by Baptiste Bohu
“Conceptual and theoretical experimentation of housing interiors in China has had a delayed start due to political influences and differing pace of development. While the birth of communism lead to standardization, rapid urbanization and economic rebirth has provided the perfect catalyst for architects to challenge the status quo and conceptualize new definitions of interior and living”.
Architecture is the element that makes Beijing’s transformation from ancient city to cosmopolitan capital more evident. In a reality made of hutong – the typical alleys – gray brick walls and red buildings, modern presences such as the Water Cube: the new aquatic center, the Bird Nest the nest-shaped stadium, the Egg the Beijing Opera they seem to have grown as “young plants” after a long winter.
Casajolie is a dynamic entrepreneurial group that deals with investing and promoting the premium Italian and European brands in the furniture and design sector, in strategic locations located in the main metropolises of the country, in addition to its cultural “embassies” in Beijing and Shanghai.
Founded in 2004, in the hot phase of Chinese economic development, sees Owen Dong at the top of the pyramid: a smart entrepreneur open to the world, curiously in love with Umbria, albeit he boasts an international training.
He shaped an innovative concept store model rooted in his passion and knowledge of ”made in Italy ” products, aiming at introducing the “culture” of the product to the Chinese market and hitting the high-end furniture and finishes sector with the added value of the design and high content of customization to meet the rapidly growing luxury segment.
A select clientele, as well as designers and interior designers, are the target audience and a strategic asset for Casa Jolie, which addresses both the Chinese and international community inhabiting the main cities. His business model is also characterized by a positive mental attitude, the result of ancient chinese philosophy and the ability to cast a glance at life with optimism, following the dictates of creativity, the relationship with nature and the quality of the products he chooses.
After nearly two decades of feverish development, Casajolie has wisely developed a relationship network thus creating over twenty dedicated stores in Beijing, Shanghai and the rest of the country.
Many of the capital’s old districts are now devoted to art and flamboyant neighborhoods designed by international “archistars”, design places where you can curiously breathe the same Milanese vibes transmitted through the city during the design week celebrating furniture as well as art.
Beijing’s vitality is also well represented by the history of some of its suburbs where there were no palaces and three decades later, it can happen to sip wine at the Atmosphere Bar, top floor of the World Trade Center Tower III, with its 330 meters the tallest building in the city.
The dynamism of the city attracts many of the most popular foreign architects, but also young Chinese architects manage to express their creativity and personal vision, a bridge between the West and the East.
Some neighborhoods of the city offer green corridors where to walk and the desire to design pleasant and enjoyable outdoor spaces grows. Many buildings built in modern China are inspired by 20th century American architecture, but a trend is emerging on the surface towards projects based on Asian values, and Beijing will be able to provide excellent examples.
We choose to feature two residential projects both hosted in Beijing, distinct and separate, but united by the personal research of the designers in the sense of a new luxury, where history meets and welcomes elements of modernity and non-traditional materials.
Each villa is conceived with a unique design giving recognizability and heterogeneity to the residential neighborhood that houses them, laying them in the alcove of green avenues and choosing for the interiors protagonist surfaces declined between stones, marble and natural woods integrated with cutting-edge technologies and systems .
The two design studios Chou Shuyu and Baptiste Bohu worked on the concept of modern villas, according to canons that we could define as “neo-classic” in architecture, developed on several floors surrounded by well-kept vegetation that meets precise criteria of privacy and protection.
Each designer gave us his own version of the composition of the volumes that host conviviality and hospitality, from the spaciousness of the living room, to the privacy of the bedrooms, the study and the service areas.
The bathrooms of the house are characterized by large dimensions and the choice of a luxury that focuses on details and finishes, while in the living and kitchen area we can find elements of contemporary rationality and colors with strong contrasts, compositional patterns broken by the flicker of antique furnishings, fabrics and rugs generously present in the spaces dedicated to both night and day.
More and more, for the architect, rooms in a dwelling are not defined by functionality but are a series of spaces with changing degrees of openness or closeness.
The interiors have been designed enhancing the theme of contrast and “opposition” of styles, colors and materials, strong is the presence of a classic taste played on the furnishings, the use of marble and precious materials, not forgetting shapes and volumes.
The tactile choice of wood introduces an ingredient of sober elegance and naturalness albeit two opposite styles are at stake: one focuses on the more detailed design with the Foxtrot collection designed by Matteo Nunziati for Natural Genius imbued with a contemporary spirit – in an extra dark chocolate color Testa di Moro – whilst the softer Civita Filigrana’s Atelier collection glows with golden shades of honey. In both settings, natural lighting and sparks of light make a substantial contribution in defining and sculpting the contours and depths.
Nowadays, even in China, there is much more talk of nature, almost always in contrast with the “built”. Natural and artificial (built) are described as two separate elements, very often opposite. Buildings are thought to be artificial and nature to be natural. The challenge for the future will be to find the balance point and build an architecture in consonance and in dialogue with nature.
In this apparently naive but existential question, one of the great differences between east and west is contained: the relationship between man and nature. In a brutal synthesis, in the first case the world is seen as a whole and the two elements that compose it are in a constant harmonious and fluid relationship, while the West tends to pragmatically distinguish the two fields by highlighting the differences, in a continuous process of abstraction.
The figure of the architect well represent the Chinese parable that has characterized recent history. With its radical-shaped buildings it has always been a symbol of China’s disruptive economic growth with thousands of square meters designed and built that have led it to international success In the era of the global village, private architectures built in the great Chinese metropolises can provide new points of view on the classic themes of contemporary architecture, but they must be observed with an open mind, without stopping neither the shape nor the all-Chinese dimension of the buildings, in to which the dizzying residential towers often resemble series repetitions of buildings made with the method that we could define as “industrial” equal to themselves.
For the new generations, unlike what happened in the past, design plays a fundamental role, not only in fashion, and has ended up conquering more and more places of living, architecture. The tools that are used in daily life become design products. All this helps us to understand that the vision of Casa Jolie is illuminating, has opened up a new world for us, and is now able to offer everything Beijing, and China, needs.
“The earliest experiments were avant-garde for the Chinese context, evolving the spatial volume of a home beyond the physical embodiment of daily activities, into a lifestyle. The design of domestic interior is meant to materializing a landscape of living into physical space, where there is a potential of re-discovery at every single scale and dimension within a private sphere. Through the projects, we re-define every dimension to combine with the object and devices in the space, with the activities and habits of users” told us the Owen Dong. “The architects’ setting and configuration of objects establish the topography and niches of the room, give families a sense of intimacy”.
What’s important in making a home is location, because a home is the link to our communities. A home must provide comfort, security, and belonging. Where we live is tied to our connections to family, friends and colleagues. The home is an expression of the values you hold dear in life, and this home environment will also shape the mind of the people inhabiting it. And that links to the responsibility and power of architects and designers, to help materialize a responsible lifestyle that can inspire future generations.
For most people living in a high-density Chinese city, building is irrelevant to the inhabitants. It is only a predetermined built environment. While home is not a shelter, a scaffold for living, it is more a set of rituals and routines of everyday life surrounded with domestic objects. The core components of interior space, or how they transform ‘housing’ to a ‘home’ through their understanding of space and lifestyle within the Chinese context are the underlying values to the projects we feature.
At first, it may seem contradictory: A house embracing nature while being an introverted form. In China however, interior does not necessarily mean indoors. A courtyard in a house can be considered interior, it’s simply a room without a roof. It offers the residents a generous space to carry out diverse domestic deeds while allowing them to enjoy the heavens above and earth below.
New residential projects tend to reinterpret this specific spatial proposition – an architectural element that is part of the inside but outside by nature.
In the typical contemporary home layout in China one room corresponds to one function. However nowadays rooms may become multipurpose; hierarchy in the living space is the new challenge, according to components: partition interface, furniture space, scale, scenes. In ancient China domestic spaces were homogeneous, where the furniture works as barrier of division forming space.
Only in the traditional Chinese room a layout can develop the sense of scale to become a scene from a story. Space is porous with many orifices in it, while the walls are only the background of the “furniture space”. Spatial layers are extremely rich. The domestic space thus becomes the garden.
The original purpose of the Modernist design principles underlying this apartment typology was to provide each house with quality and comfort, by using a standardized, economic, industrial mass construction method.
Interior Design –in the contemporary complex world – should take four key components into account: comfort, family, flexibility, storage. To maximize the open space and storage of the apartment we moved all the functions to the walls to allow for free movement, light penetration and cross-ventilation. By turning the walls into flexible pieces of furniture with hidden functions and fold-out elements, we could maximize the function and flexibility of the spaces. The choice of materials, the new lightness and well-structured levels created a comfortable home for all seasons.
Project: Grasse County Private Residence
Products: Foxtrot Testa di moro & Heritage Civita1695
Year: Aug. 2019
Architect: Chou Shuyu
Photo: Li Shengyang
Chou Shuyu, architect, director and co-founder of Qingting decoration design firm. During the past 8 years of his design career, he has constantly broken through the conventional design thinking, striving to adhere to the concept of the integration of architectural structure, spatial form and the living track of residents, while coalescing to create unique design works with architectural and artistic design language.
Project: Xiangshan Qingqin Villa Private Residence
Products: Oak Civita 1140 Italian Herringbone & Oak Civita 1695
Architect: Baptiste Bohu
Photo: Lei Tantan
Baptiste Bohu intended to have a career in finance after graduating from Business School, Baptiste’s passion for Design & Architecture finally took over. He created his agency in 2008.
Thanks to a strong family background in Real Estate and Construction, he rapidly acquired the taste and technical skills to create elegant and comfortable interiors.
His style has been sought after by an A-list clientele for Residential and Commercial projects worldwide. Inspired by Art Deco, French classicism, and contemporary design, he enjoys mixing different eras to produce unique and serene spaces. Supported by a team of designers and project managers, the studio offers full services, from concept, to decoration, furniture design, and construction.