Beetles cover the walls and ceiling of J Boroski bar in Shanghai by Atelier XY

Atelier XY covers cocktail bar in Shanghai with over 1,000 insects

Preserved tarantulas and beetles decorate the shadowy rooms inside this bar in Shanghai, China designed by local studio Atelier XY.

Atelier XY designed the bar, which is called J Boroski, to reflect its owners' interest in insects.

It's located in Shanghai French Concession – a region of the city that was occupied and governed by the French state from 1849 up until 1943. Over the last few decades the area has been redeveloped, and it's now host to a number of eateries, boutiques and quaint music venues.

Beetles cover the walls and ceiling of J Boroski bar in Shanghai by Atelier XY
Top image: beetles cover the surfaces of the bar. Above: a glass-brick wall runs down the back of the room

To enter the bar, visitors walk through an assuming door and up through a dark stairwell.

"It acts as a transition between the noisy exterior and the quiet interior. Once the reception is reached, the unique character of this place slowly reveals itself," explained the studio.

Atelier XY designs dark interiors for J Boroski bar
Behind the partition are dimly lit lounge areas

The main bar area inside is dominated by a 12-metre-long counter where up to eight mixologists can stand and rustle up cocktail orders.

Amber-hued lights illuminate drink bottles on display, fostering a sense of warmth.

A gridded teak-wood framework covers the wall directly behind the counter and extends up to cover half the bar's ceiling. Every square opening in the grid is centred by a beetle – in total there are 1,254.

Atelier XY designs dark interiors for J Boroski bar
Dark leather furniture features throughout the bar

Along the rear of the bar is a glass brick wall, through the centre of which runs a series of see-through blocks that contain 42 preserved Thai Black tarantulas.

It has also been inbuilt with a couple of black-iron drawers – when pulled out, further taxidermy insect specimens are revealed. These can also double-up as small ledges where standing visitors in the bar can rest their drinks.

Glass wall contains preserved spiders in J Boroski bar in Shanghai by Atelier XY
Preserved spiders are set inside the glass-brick wall

The wall separates the bar from a couple of dim lounge areas dressed with comfy armchairs upholstered in dark, umber-coloured leather.

A small amount of light is offered by a handful of tealight candles in glass tumblers.

Atelier XY designs dark interiors for J Boroski bar
The bar includes a lab-style space where guests can watch cocktails being made

There is also what the studio describes as a "chamber room", which lies behind a heavy glass-brick door. Inside there's a laboratory-style space where visitors will be invited to watch mixologists experiment with making drinks, using extravagant tools like centrifuges or rotary distillation machines.

The dark colour palette of the bar seeps through into the bathroom, which is completely clad in glazed, oxblood-coloured tiles. It's centred by a lengthy wooden sink.

Bathroom inside J Boroski bar in Shanghai by Atelier XY
Oxblood-coloured tiles cover the bar's bathroom

Atelier XY is based in Shanghai and was established in 2018 by Qi Xiaofeng and Wang Yuyang.

The studio's J Boroski project is shortlisted in the bar interior category of this year's Dezeen Awards. It will go up against spaces such as The Berkeley Bar & Terrace by Bryan O'Sullivan Studio, which features ornate plasterwork friezes, walnut wall panelling and a blush-pink snug where guests can retire with their drinks.

Photography is courtesy of Schran Images and Hu Yanyun.


Project credits:

Design: Atelier XY
Team: Qi Xiaofeng, Wang Yuyang, Chen Xi
Product design: Notion Common, Atelier XY
Lighting: Zenko lighting design

More images and plans

J Boroski bar in Shanghai by Atelier XY
Floor plan
Glass wall contains preserved spiders in J Boroski bar in Shanghai by Atelier XY