shiwu store




Located along a narrow alley next to the Presidential Palace, a cultural heritage and popular tourist destination in Nanjing, the new Shiwu branch store is provided a context that is not to the advantage of its own character. While the surroundings embrace loud crowds, cheap souvenirs and fast food, Shiwu primarily features carefully crafted products that are mostly handmade by Japanese craftsmen.


We therefore decided from the beginning to focus on the introverted spatial quality of the store. It welcomes the visitors to come inside, but examines their curiosities through a solid wooden door. The gesture of pulling distinguishes the shop from its touristic neighbors, and the shop reveals its internal quiet and relaxed atmosphere in an unanticipated manner. For enriching the visitors’ shopping experience, we endeavored to increase their circulations and turns with a 45-degree angled layout. Circling around at wish, they may pick up pottery objects at the entry, or try on clothes at the elevated, more private zone. They may as well sit down at an angled corner and enjoy a cup of tea.


Alternative to the everyday operation, the owner also intends to hold occasional exhibitions for Japanese artist Reiko Sudo’s textile works. We use a 1.4 x 1.4m lattice grid of OSB strips to realize the hanging of larges pieces of Sudo’s fabrics that could also perform as soft partitions of the space.


The upper side of the lattice grid contains LED strips illuminating upwards onto a reflective ceiling that is made out of 1mm galvanized steel sheet. This system provides evenly distributed brightness flooding over the floor, improving visual comfort and diffusing unpleasant shadows.


Maximizing the flexibility of rearrangement through a single intervention, we tested early on the idea of inserting partitions cladded with expanded mesh. We carefully selected a custom aperture dimension, which best fit commonly available standardized hangers, so that there could be no limit in terms of where the objects or shelves could be fixed.


In the spirit of material experimentation, we went on to look for a fitting twist to the harshness of metal mesh. After going through many surveys and experiments, we discovered an ancient Chinses formula of paper pulp, which is very fiber rich and adhesive. Before execution on site, we tested to control the level of transparency of pulp web in our studio. We then dipped and dried 20 sheets of metal mesh on the construction site by ourselves.


The appearance of these pulp webs is constantly oscillating, due to the unevenness of pulp attachment to the metal meshes. Depending on where the viewer is standing, these webs will look rigid or soft, blurred or transparent, closed or open. They are initiated for the functional flexibility of rearrangement, but perform aesthetic values and freshness, giving the space its most unique character.


While retail design is now often seen to focus on achieving superficial cyber popularity, mostly by imposing exaggerated visual elements, our effort in Shiwu is to rediscover the quality and potential in craftsmanship, encouraging tactile sensation, lingering, and looking around.