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December 13, 2009

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Huge loft designed for work, life blend

RICHARD Hsu has been a much talked about name on the Bund since he returned to the city of his birth in 2003. As a brand consultant and design consultant, he has carried out a series of very cool and stylish domestic projects that represent his interests and commitment to China brands, Chinese talents, culture and art, education and city planning.

Hsu's creative side is well reflected at his own dwelling tucked on Yongnian Road. Every time he walked through this very local street exuding a somewhat old Shanghai atmosphere, Hsu felt he was taking a sentimental journey back into his childhood with his grandfather.

Hsu left Shanghai for Hong Kong at age five. In his teens Hsu followed his parents and brother to France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland. After architectural studies in the United States, Hsu worked in the areas of retail, advertising, branding, design and content programming in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Returning to his roots in 2003, he opened Wieden+Kennedy's China office. Having looked at around 50 locations for both the office and his home, Hsu was finally captivated by the light, huge floor area, and the spacious outdoor terrace of this loft-style structure on the top floor of a four-story building amidst an old Shanghai neighborhood.

Covering more than 500 square meters, Hsu's living space is grand and impressive, both inside and out. The gloomy and empty loft space was transformed into an inspirational, cozy "living retreat" for his days in Shanghai.

"I never liked high-rise and I do not like walls too much. I started to live in loft spaces in 1978 in New York and a lot of my inspiration comes from that loft-style living," Hsu said.

"As for the type of work I'm involved in, I don't want to talk about creativity. I hope my space will show it,'' he said.

Roaming freedom

Peek into any of the carefully considered rooms and there's no denying Hsu's eye for design. This creative space was the result of an exercise of space-making ingenuity, giving a thrilling sense of roaming freedom. A home personality is infused without walls between rooms.

The ceilings of the house reach the imposing height of 4.75 meters, supported by steel beams. Yet since comfort was a must, Hsu used steel to underline the industrial character of the space, while lending it warmth with various wood furniture pieces and beautifully designed fitness equipment.

The 300-square-meter interior felt roomy and bright, where the sun shines profusely through high windows around the space. The open living, dining and kitchen areas make the most of the space on the first level and an open stair in the conference room leads to the second level where the sleeping area and a spa-like bathroom can be found.

Hsu painted throughout in white to keep the house fresh and modern. "I wanted a clean backdrop so I could spread all my stuff around and show it at its best," he said.

His thinking all the time has been to create a sense of international contemporary chic, but to marry it with easy-going, relaxed lifestyle.

The living/dining area is the heart of the home to where everyone gravitates. The simple, open kitchen at one end gives way to a relaxed dining area with a clean-lined wooden table and chairs. It is a calming space to have a cup of tea and some simple food, so that the kitchen doesn't monopolise the room.

The sitting area showcases some highlight pieces, such as comfy sofa sets and lounge chairs designed by Hsu, the refined Kinesis Personal training equipment from Technogym, and the floor lamp designed by Philippe Starck.

The open plan of the house is also surprisingly conductive to entertaining and communication, which was also Hsu's aim - to create a malleable and social space. "Numerous creative ideas and projects started here. People, space and ideas meld together."

Perhaps the greatest challenge was to visually divide the area to provide intimate spaces while avoiding solid partitions. Hsu wanted to make the house very flexible and provide constant surprises.

A large blackboard placed between the open living/dining area and the conference room is a very creative way to divide the space.

It is also used to create a writing surface, a conversational piece for friends and visitors to freely write and draw and leave a message.

"Life is a collage. A good solution to a problem is the collage of ideas," Hsu said. "There are stories and memories from different travels, different projects, different friendships."

From the moment you step inside, it's clear this is a temple of creativity. There are plenty of lovingly selected pieces, each with a story to tell, displayed in an organized way because the homeowner didn't want clutter.

The living area features all kinds of fun, creative and artistic items designed and created by Hsu and artists around the world.

"As I said, it's not far from a magazine. Each creative item brings me somewhere and that's why I like to rotate the artworks and pieces between here and my storage space. Your mind is always stimulated.''

Hsu considers the structure of the house and main pieces of furniture as hardware, and the home's accents, design accessories, music and smells as software.

"Software can change all the time and could set the mood, accentuate and change the home.''

And for fast, aggressive Shanghai living, the home is a place to balance and recharge.

Hsu's bedroom and bathroom on the second level is the essence of refined simplicity, giving off absolute peace and relaxation.

He enjoys waking up in his tatami-style, cozy little cocoon with great light and spectacular view of the old neighborhood with skyscrapers in the background.

With its spacious outdoor areas and sleek interior, this loft-style living space provides a perfect escape for Hsu to take a relaxing break and get away from the hectic rush of city life.

It is the Christmas season once again. And we are once again in search of items that would uplift the season. From the usual suspects when it comes to Christmas decorations like tinsel, bells, stars and trees to more sophisticated festive ornaments, decoration shops in the city have whatever you need to make your home invoke Christmas spirit this year.

From December 18 to 31, Wending Living Style Plaza on Wending Road also presents a dazzling outdoor "Creative Christmas Market'' (the market opens daily from 4pm to 9pm on weekdays and from 11am to 10pm on the weekends) that will ignite a magical sparkle to the city's winter gloom. This special market will feature 15 beautifully decorated wooden chalets selling festive temptations and modern gift ideas.

Before you go out to buy the right Christmas ornaments, we've selected some items from different shops that will add sparkle and a little extra cheer to your home.

Kotte gift article, 49.90 yuan (IKEA)

Address: 126 Caoxi Rd

Tel: 400-800-2345

Angel paper decoration, 30 yuan (Platane)

Address: 156 Taikang Rd

Tel: 6466-2495

Kotte Glass tree, 49.90 yuan for two (IKEA)

Address: 126 Caoxi Rd

Tel: 400-800-2345

Pernici Style, 1,100-2,300 yuan (Pernici Italian Design Candle)

Address: 79 Yueyang Rd

Tel: 6466-6081 (reservation is required)

Kallt light, 69 yuan (IKEA)

Address: 126 Caoxi Rd

Tel: 400-800-2345

Red Fading, 790 yuan (Artecnica, 100 percent)

Address: 72 Wuyuan Rd

Tel: 5404-1678

Julros scented candle, 29.90 yuan (IKEA)

Address: 126 Caoxi Rd

Tel: 400-800-2345

Lady in the Wonderland candleholder, 660 yuan (Artecnica, 100 percent)

Address: 72 Wuyuan Rd

Tel: 5404-1678


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