Le Sun Chine
Hats off to Sun Yun-li, the owner of this former British-style listed residence with colonnaded balconies, which he turned into a boutique hotel in 2010. This is a family business, and Sebastian Sun is master of the house. It is the epitome of finesse, decorated with loving care by Julian Coombs. In the public areas and well-equipped rooms, the decorator has created settings that are predominantly beige, gold, red and blue, to striking effect. Classical furniture, Art Deco, Chinese antiques, high ceilings and embroidered wall hangings are highlighted by an impressive collection of charming objects and valuable ornaments. The beautifully laid-out gardens and the delicacies on the restaurant menu complete the picture of this sanctuary of luxury.
Designer Ji Cheng is one of the most recognized faces in Chinese fashion. Her work has been featured in several fashion weeks throughout Asia’s capitals, as well as highly publicized campaigns for Shiseido and Johnnie Walker. Ji herself was featured as a promising young designer in a New York Times-produced documentary, Growing China, as well as a TV programme for which she interviewed Vivienne Tam. After studying at Milan’s Istituto Marangoni, Ji worked as a designer and visual director at Missoni Sport, Basic by Krizia and D’A before launching La Vie in 2002 (later changing the name to Ji Cheng). An accomplished designer and early adopter of eco-chic fashion, fond of the ephemeral look that put introverted, ultra-feminine silhouettes on the runways, Ji makes it a priority to use sustainable fabrics and ethical production practices. Her collections have had a pronounced Chinese influence, from glamorous red silk satin gowns with elaborate pleating to pretty, diaphanous qipao dresses in cream-coloured cotton. Leather is also a fixture in her recent collections, in the form of short black and fringed jackets.
Sense (Yu Ba Xian)
There’s no hope of dining in this Cantonese restaurant, where guests are greeted at the door by a gracious, smiling Indian elegantly attired in a sherwani, unless you have booked a table by the picture windows on the upper floor (ideally) or in one of the six private rooms (the more conventional choice). A symbol of oriental glamour and extravagance, Sense 8 – whose Chinese name Yu Bai Xian means “The Eight Immortals”, a group of legendary folk figures – is unsurprisingly one of the city’s most popular restaurants. It may be because of the spectacular decor (waxed parquet flooring, French-inspired chinoiserie, Suzhou tapestries, reproductions of furniture and lanterns from the Imperial Palace in Beijing, paintings by artisans who worked in the Forbidden City, walls painted by a family affiliated with a temple in Hebei province) dreamed up by designer Song Yuxin, also behind the interiors of the Peacock Room in Jing’an. Or maybe it’s the skill of the award-winning chef, whose sophisticated cuisine attracts Shanghai’s high society, from the painter Ding Yi to the famous art critic Fei Dawei.
Opened in 2013 by Simon Wang, an agitator on the local art scene, Antenna Space has become one of the most innovative galleries of the arty M50 district. Although its programmes are often in the headlines, its real strength lies in building unexpected, sometimes transgressive bridges and seeking out collaborations with other local institutions, or even with fashion and luxury brands. Its bright white central space is used for exhibitions and a string of high-profile designers, including Huang Yuxing, Chen Fei, Gao Lei, Dawei Dong, Wang Yuyang, Jiang Zhi, and many other illustrators, sculptors, visual artists, versatile creators and new media fiends. The gallery also represents such popular names as Yu Honglei and his spatial aesthetic, and the wild collages of Guan Xiao, whose work made a splash at the 13th Biennale de Lyon and was previously exhibited at the New Museum in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul.
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