Page C1.1 . 14 March 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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    Postcard from Shanghai

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    Offices of MoHen Design International, Shanghai. Photography by MoHen Design International.

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    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    In the interior design of its own three-story office space in downtown Shanghai, China, completed in April 2006, MoHen Design International emphasizes decorative elements. The reception desk is a glass case lit from the inside, an island of light in a dark space. In the main office and work space, cubicles line two opposite walls. Two long faux-finished tables for collaborative work stretch lengthwise down the middle of the room, flanked by furry, bench-style seats. Task lighting drops from the ceiling.

    At one end of this open-plan office, sliding doors made of vertical stainless steel strips partially conceal supply shelves. The door to the executive office, in a contrasting metallic pattern, divides the wall in two. The metal finish continues in the executive office, which features a stainless steel-clad wall punctuated by boxy protrusions above a built-in couch. Acrylic chandeliers throughout were also designed by MoHen.

    The conceptual highlight of the office is the stairwell that leads from the reception desk to the main office space two floors below: the walls are covered floor-to-ceiling in white and black molding. By taking something designed to add richness to the boundaries between surfaces and using it to cover entire walls, MoHen has made a focal point of a space that is so often designed for bland, forgettable utility. The variety of textures and thicknesses creates a play of light and shadow. This unconventional wall treatment makes a witty, mannerist play on the samples collection found in every design office.

    On the road in Shanghai,

    Alex Smith

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