The Shanghai Project

An upscale design for an industrial setting.

Having worked in China previously on a western-themed resort community, Jackson Hole, I already had a feeling for how to work through the language barrier.  When working on new construction in the States we’re able to focus on the details and oversee the implementation of our designs in person.  When sending a design to China, you never know.

Step 1: Materials and Layout

Choosing the materials is the fun part where we get to work out how the project is going to feel; what kind of vibe it’s going to give off.  Our contact in Shanghai, Andy, provided us with photos of the bare bones of this large apartment building so that we could create a plan.  Our job is to create an inviting apartment that will appeal to the expatriates, some of them from the States, who are living and working in Shanghai.  This model unit needs to show the potential of the building and draw in new occupants.  It really has to shine.

Using only these photos, AutoCAD plans, and a little help from our friend Andy, we were able to come up with a design theme: Post-Industrial Posh.  Walnut flooring set in a chevron pattern, Carrara marble tile, black and white paint, exposed concrete and some painted brick round out our design board.

interior design style for shanghai kitchen rendering interior designers

Because we cant be there in person, we decided to create a 67 page instruction manual for implementing our design.  This may seem like overkill, but flying to Shanghai every time there is a question about flooring installation just isn’t an option.  To get it just right, we have to be specific.

We started with the floor plan layout.  This building has 4 apartments per floor, and 12 floors.  We only have to design the model unit, which is on the southern corner of the fourth floor.  The only obstacle at this point is working within the existing structure; the developer would like a three bedroom, two bathroom unit.  Fitting all three bedrooms into this space while maneuvering around support beams, fire doors, and concrete columns, is a challenge, but nothing we cant handle.

We opted for an open-concept living space that takes advantage of that large wall of windows.  Even though furniture wont be specified, the best way to get a feel for how the space works was to throw in some generic furniture outlines.

shanghai interior design for apartment with marble countertop

Step 2: Flooring and Ceiling Design

The ceilings in this unit are relatively high but there is a sprinkler system and concrete support beams are scattered throughout.  To give the apartment a clean look while keeping our post-industrial theme alive, the solution is a dropped ceiling in some areas, and exposed beams in others.  In the living room and bedrooms, the ceiling will be at it’s full height–about 11 feet–for the bathrooms, foyer, hallways, and above the closets we’ve decided to drop it down to 9 feet so that we can add recessed can lighting.

To make sure they understand the look we’re going for, we threw in this rendering(on the left), drawn on top of the actual photograph of the living area of the apartment.  Once the brick is up and painted, they can install the custom cabinetry we designed for this space(right image): shelves on either side for coffee table books, and cabinets in the middle to hide your components and wiring.  These cabinets will have the same finish as the kitchen–a medium-tone reclaimed look with satin black cup pulls.

entryway design for apartment interior decor

Step 3: Lighting and Finishes

The rooms that have raised ceilings still needed some lighting, so we added soffits with recessed cans.  The lighting schedule is very simple for this apartment, with the most ornate fixture above the kitchen island.  The bathrooms get a little extra love in the form of sconces around the mirrors.

Step 5: Explaining the Design through Imagery

Our in-house graphic renderer was able to put her new skills to the test with this project.  Bathed head to toe in marble, we needed to show the tile layout for both the master bathroom and the second bathroom.  Even though the images are just rough digital sketches of how the rooms will look, we feel they get the point across.

For the final renderings of this apartment, we opted to hire a professional to ensure that we can provide top-of-the line detailing with the representations of our design.  Any point where the language barrier cant be broken down, these images have to pick up the slack and explain our intentions.  We were so happy with how they turned out; they almost look like photographs!  Hopefully, once the apartment is finished, our friend Andy will send us some pictures.  For now, we just have to hope that they love our design as much as we do and can create this beautiful apartment.

More To Explore