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June 8, 2024

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Shanghai home infuses indigenous influences and tropical estheticYang Di

CHRISTINE Low has brought her Shanghai home cultural and indigenous influences from across the world. Effortless and bohemian, the home is a reflection of her free spirit.

The tasteful apartment, tucked away in a lane on leafy Xingguo Road, exudes a sense of welcoming charm. It serves as a home base for Low, chief operating officer and show director at Activation Group, and her 13-year-old son Luca, as well as two rescue dogs.

Born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Low started a modeling career in Europe in 1988 and returned to Asia in 1993. Actively involved in the fashion and luxury industry, the supermodel-turned-show director moved to Shanghai in 2011.

“I’ve called Shanghai my home since then,” she said. “This is the sixth home I have lived in here.”

With her busy schedule, Low requires a private sanctuary that is safe and peaceful.

“My home is where I can feel 100 percent relaxed and be at ease, surrounded by everything I love and put together. That’s how I recharge myself and face new challenges everyday,” she said.

Low is constantly on the move due to the fact that she loves decorating spaces. She moved into this 236-square-meter apartment in March last year.

“Other than having a Bund view, this leafy neighborhood in Xuhui District is my most loved area in Shanghai, with a multiracial environment and all these cool quaint little surprises inside the neighborhood. I can easily walk to my favorite restaurant Ginger where I can taste my home country’s speciality, Laksa,” Low said.

Her criteria for an ideal home include plenty of sunshine, an open balcony for her plants and an extra bedroom for guests.

“This flat is way out of my initial budget but after seeing a photo of sunlight coming through all the south-facing balcony and windows, I decided to take a look,” Low recalled.

“The master bedroom with a 30-square-meter private rooftop garden is completely isolated from the common area, and the school bus pickup point for Luca is only two minutes’ walk away. I took it immediately!”

The location offers a perfect balance of serenity and accessibility.

Low’s home allows her to infuse diverse global influences into the living space. No matter where she lived, she has always wanted a vibe similar to her environment growing up.

“Old teak furniture, ancient folklore decor sitting in that quiet, understated way of living environment, a tropical esthetic and an ethnic touch,” she said.

Low invests in furniture pieces crafted from natural materials such as teak and rattan, giving the home a sense of relaxation and comfort while maintaining a light and airy feel.

With a discerning eye for beauty, Low purchased most of her furniture pieces in China, such as an old Indonesian teak dining table, primitive-style Moroccan carpets and a pair of vintage Oscar armchairs designed by Brazilian icon Sergio Rodrigues.

She pointed out a pair of 1970s chairs crafted from rattan by Italian furniture maker Vivai del Sud. The vintage chairs are reupholstered with jacquard velvet with tiger mountain motifs inspired by Tibetan carpets from Italian fabric house Dedar. The pair gives a strong personality to the space.

Besides the main furniture pieces, there are plenty of remarkable surprises to be found within the living and dining area. Low has chosen to give the space a cozy vibe and added her personality to the decor by displaying art pieces, travel treasures and collectibles.

She is fond of African primitive decor masks and the first pair she bought is sitting in her Shanghai home.

“I spent my first modeling income to purchase this treasure piece in Paris. It cost a lot for a struggling young Asian model in the late ‘80s but I was hooked. I have about 20 to 30 masks from Africa to South America,” she said.

The glass cabinet next to the Indonesian bench is filled with her collection of crystal glassware sourced from around the world.

“My love for vintage crystal glasses simply started from one piece gifted by a friend. Then I started to look for all different styles at flea markets in Paris and London,” she said.

“During the pandemic, I followed vintage shops online and added more to my collection. Love them all!”

While the interior features an airy primary palette comprising earthy tones through the use of combination of textures, the artworks on the wall bring a touch of quirkiness.

“I love buying art from really young and unknown artists — nothing extravagant but quirky in taste, just like me,” Low said.

She followed London-based Jamaican painter Adebayo Bolaji on Instagram and was very much inspired by his quirky style. Low commissioned the artist to create a pair of paintings based on her Gemini personality, which now hangs in the dining space.

Another artwork hanging above the bench is from O’Tru no Trus, a Japanese artist couple based in Okinawa. They are known for their work using driftwood and other flotsam mixed with brass.

The sense of delight and quirkiness makes this space stand as a unique gem, reflecting the energy of the homeowner.

“My energy is back every time I’m back home. Every corner I turn I feel good,” Low said. “Home is also where I get hurt and heal — my four walls have seen me cry, laugh, scream, lick my wounds and dance.”


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