Project: The Exchange Bar
Design Studio: NONG STUDIO
Chef designer: Chasing Wang, Neal Zhu
Design Team: Dafu, Fan Zhang, Alessia Di Meglio, Weiquan Chen
Lighting Consultant: Fager Yang
Completion year: 2020.10
Area: 150 sqm
Address: Blackstone Apartment, Shanghai, China
Photographer: Chasing Wang
Text and photos: Courtesy of NONG STUDIO
There is a memory called the Bund, and a style called Old Shanghai.
The Blackstone Apartments Building is in the former French Concession. It marks the modern architectural classics of Shanghai with an eclectic style. It was known as the “most luxurious apartment” in Shanghai at that time for its luxurious configuration. It was also sought after as the most popular social place for its famous and distinguished residents.
The BLACKSTONE EXCHANGE takes its design language from the traces of Shanghai in the 1930s, where it is located. It was flashy and gorgeous, lazy and mysterious, unique and unusual, introverted and self-sustaining. It accepts the infiltration of the western culture but stubbornly maintains the national tradition.
The entrance of the Exchange Bar is set on the side of the building. The long walkway paved with mosaic tiles seems to fade away from the hustle and bustle of the flashy world. The bar owner seemed to only search for friends thus setting up a mechanism outside the door. After finding the key to pass, the door slowly opened.
Through the long walkway, the fully open symmetrical space after entering the bar makes people suddenly enlightened. The top arc shape coincides with the iconic curved balcony on the facade of the Blackstone Apartment. The wall behind the wooden bar is decorated with various baroque stigmas. Under the background of the mottled red bricks, a sense of chaos in time and space is created. It makes people feel as if they were in an Italian family tavern. It feels mysterious and historical.
The visual centre of the entire space is the golden turntable. It is the centre of the stage on the central axis. The shape coincides with the turntable of the bank vault, which illuminates the “exchange” from its name. However, there are only bottles of whiskey on the axis. Like a whirlpool, people can’t help but sink. What is even more unexpected is that the double-sided sights of this golden turntable. The sight from the stage cannot be crossed. However, from the bathroom on the other side, each corner of the hall can be seen through the turntable. It is secret and exciting.
The two boxes behind the bar on the side of the lobby are extracted from banks. One is from the western vault, and the other is from the Chinese account room. The aisle becomes a long corridor of the vault. Stainless steel compartments of the “vault” store the wines from patrons. The wall of the “account room” is decorated with abacuses. The abacus beads form the cloudiness through the light and shadow area. This feeling adds a few more mysteries to the atmosphere of the box.
The Exchange Bar is everywhere to tell you the name “exchange” and the origin of the bar owner. It tells from the old newspaper at the entrance to the dining table covered with coins. It also tells from the vault shape of the stage to the two private boxes of the vault and the account room. This mysterious reservedness beyond the extravagant seems to take you to the heyday of Shanghai in the 1930s. Nearly a century changed Shanghai a lot. Even so, nothing seems to have changed.