Not all interiors are staged scenes that exist behind closed doors only. “At AIM, we believe a good interior can be a catalyst for change. It is rooting itself in the urban fabric, creating life and influencing city culture,” explains the team.
Their latest project, In the PARK Yanping Road, presents an integration of life, local character, and street culture, blurring indoor and outdoor boundaries. Unlike the current tendency of centralising social life around The CBD, the PARK Mall is hidden within a bustling Jing’an city block, taking shape in a new kind of mini department store.
“The brand seeks its products broadly, without pretence,” says AIM. “It calls to mind a modern-day Wunderkammer, where various objects and artifacts are stored, admired, and celebrated for their eclectic-ness and rarity.”
Initially not connected, the main space has three floors, high ceilings, and a forest of columns. AIM were inspired by traditional Chinese parks, where winding paths lead the visitor to secluded areas. The result is a voluptuous staircase and walkway that claims the space and spills out to a suspended “pond” found mid-height.
The materials and furniture speak to the relationship between nature and industry, also highlighting another important purpose — Play.
The interior is full of unexpected charm where typical park objects become transformed in the interior. Fibreglass, a material more commonly used for slides and park playthings, is used for the staircase. Rubber lining, asphalt-like flooring, and other traditional outdoor materials find new purpose indoors. Circular park seating is turned into shelves around the tree-like columns.
Outside, a large oval planter seat represents heaven, its organic shape like a pond in a traditional Chinese garden. However, not every project reference is traditional. The staircase is as inspired by a suburban skate bowl as much as it represents an austere garden.
The dressing room design is influence by Dutch public street furniture. The combination of all the elements is an intriguing interoperation of the contemporary sense of life—an inversion of the outdoors and indoors. Likewise, the clothes drying poles, street signs, fitting rooms, and bamboo chairs outside the store all resemble the endurance of Shanghai street life.
“Many interior spaces try to convey a sense of distance, whereas PARK is a non-serious expression,” concludes the design team. “The PARK design reimagines and recreates ordinary items and ideas. It is a stage for life, blending into the streets and truly integrates the local community and neighbourhoods.”
[Images courtesy of AIM Architecture. Photography by Wen Studio.]