From the moment of entering through the front doors of the stately, historic Art Deco building in Jing’An district in Shanghai – now home to the latest St. Regis hotel in China – the feeling of deliberate drama sets the tone for the overall design direction of the newly opened hospitality destination. Conceptualised by G.A Design, a luxury interior and architectural design agency headquartered in London, and further developed by the local agency Exclusive Design Inc (EXDI), the hotel unfolds as a contemporary vision of a traditional Shanghai manor house, offering an updated take on Chinese hospitality with a balance of overscaled opulence and bespoke detailing to craft the experience of inhabiting an exclusive residence.
Grandeur is the key theme that the hotel’s design reinforces throughout its public spaces and rooms, with a carefully curated selection of furnishings visually grounding the oversized feature walls and installations that feature prominently throughout St. Regis Shanghai Jing’An. As one of the distinct statements to guide people through the spaces, the design incorporates a series of vertical metal frame screens with inlaid jade marble panels, standing at an angle, to provide a hint at the forthcoming room behind. “This is a distinct feature in a grand hall with an otherwise European sensibility to highlight the Shanghai style hospitality setting,” says J. O’Yang, Principal of EXDI. Likewise, within the public and private spaces of the hotel, the design takes a similar approach of incorporating simplified traditional Chinese elements in subtle and creative ways to evoke a sense of contextualism to complement the amplified opulence of the design.
Throughout the hotel, the design integrates bespoke artwork and furniture pieces that would not feel out of place in a Shanghai manor. Traditional Chinese and Western art, including Chinese calligraphy paintings and contemporary works by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, cohabits comfortably in close proximity, while commissioned site-specific watercolour panels and cast porcelain within the reception serve as monumental installations to complement the residential-style Chesterfield chairs and antique brass uplighters that soften the space. Likewise, in public spaces like Socail restaurant and St. Regis bar, grand gestures in the form of monumental chandeliers and regal window drapery are softened by the choice of a warm colour palette and rich material textures that echo the effort to bring out to the hotel’s visitors a certain residential feel imbued in a local flair of the city.