An ancient Chinese courtyard garden tucked away in the hutongs of Beijing provides the setting for seasonal installations at curated design shop WUHAO.
Founder and curator Isabelle Pascal, who discovered the run-down complex and renovated the buildings and gardens in 2010, told Dezeen that she developed the idea and the space "to give young designers and brands a platform" to present their work.
The concept of the shop and installations centres around the five Chinese elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Each of these elements is associated with a season, so the space is transformed every three months to provide a fresh setting and the opportunity to showcase new and different designs.
Spring is associated with wood, summer is symbolised by fire, autumn is represented by metal and winter relates to water, whereas earth signifies the transition periods between the seasons.
The metamorphosis is most apparent in the entrance space, which is completely overhauled with different colours, materials and products to embody the current season and element.
From the entrance pavilion, a circular opening leads through to a terraced garden where furniture and other weather-resistant designs are displayed.
The garden is flanked to the east and west by showrooms in traditional brick buildings, which house collections by designers.
The main pavilion to the north of the garden contains an archaic, semi-enclosed bed at the core of the complex, which is also redecorated each season and is used to display featured designers' work.
WUHAO created a pop-up teahouse for Beijing Design Week 2011 wherevisitors were served tea at a heat-sensitive colour-changing table - read our story about it here.
Here is some more information from WUHAO:
“5 elements – 4 seasons – 1 collection”
Retail – Events – Cross Branding – Limited Editions
Born from Isabelle Pascal’s enthusiasm for the “5 elements” of Chinese philosophy, as well as the energy found in the Chinese creative scene, WUHAO is a holistic project that mixes design, fashion, products, visions and insights. A young, fresh-thinking platform, it aims to showcase and foster the most talented and eco-conscious designers, brands and talents from China and abroad.
Created in spring 2010 in the heart of Beijing, WUHAO recently celebrated its second-year cycle. It is situated between Houhai Lake and Lama Temple, and is a quick walk from bustling Nanluoguxiang - in a unique, peaceful atmosphere.
As a young company, WUHAO is constantly involved in retail, events, cross branding and limited edition work including nurturing six young, upcoming Chinese designers (Xiao Tianyu, Su Chunrong, Zheng Haichen, Wang Kaichuan, Wang Hao, Zhang Cheng) and providing them with the opportunity to showcase their talent to the world. These designers’ works are now available as part of WUHAO’s collection.
Hidden beyond the red doors of Mao’er Hutong 35, Wuhao Curated-Shop Beijing is WUHAO’s first temporary display box. Each season, there are eye-catching installations and new displays for a unique selection of products. It is always striving to provide guests with a unique experience.
Catering to an eclectic community of both Chinese and foreign, global and local, WUHAO holds a contemporary vision of the traditional Chinese garden and has been quoted by Wallpaper* magazine as one of the “20 terrific reasons to visit China”. Starting with only 15 designers in 2010, WUHAO today is now working with a growing network of over 100 Chinese and international creatives.
Moved by its inner dynamic, WUHAO traveled in 2011 to Milan Furniture Fair with designers Xiao Tianyu and Wang Hao, accepted more and more invitations to develop partnerships, and teamed up with young talents such as Huo Yi Jin to create exclusive products. WUHAO’s Dunhuang-inspired wallpaper – a long-term collaboration with Nick Wu - was awarded ‘Best Wall Covering Design’ by ELLE Decoration’s International Design Awards China.
WUHAO also set up site-specific installations with designers Li Nai Han, INNOVO/PINWU and MPMP, developed side car moto tours with Beijing Sideways and emerged via pop up projects.
A notable example is WUHAO @ The Teahouse, created especially for Beijing Design Week 2011 in partnership with Tranquil Tuesdays. The temporary Dashilar space was featured in more than 65 media outlets, providing a new opportunity to spread WUHAO’s unique spirit from the walls of the Chinese garden to the design world. With 2 years of existence, 2 cycles, 8 installations, WUHAO less secret but still exclusive is now ready with its partners to broaden horizons and embark on new adventures.