HBA looks to China’s rich cultural background of arts and invention to create an edgy, sophisticated new look in Le Meridien Shanghai, Minhang.

Le Méridien Shanghai, Minhang features 240 chic guest rooms and spacious suites displaying contemporary artwork that blends with timeless furnishings to create a warm ambience. Designed to pay homage to the notable discoveries China made in the art of image captures, such as camera obscura and shadow play, all the finishes, details, and lighting schemes in the hotel reflect the unique history that lingers within the ancient town of Qibao in Minhang District of Shanghai.

“This project challenged our design team to see through the lens of history, drawing inspiration from the pivotal strides in invention made from within the ancient town’s walls,” said HBA Associate Robbyn Carter. “Our team focuses more on experiential design by creating a new and unexpected experience, questioning the norm and disrupting our usual linear thought process. Qibao’s rich history of arts has made impactful discoveries in the art of image capture. We communicate history through art because art is a form of documentation.”

The hotel’s edgy and design-forward vision unlocks the destination through art, presenting a new perspective on the typical luxury hospitality experience. Le Méridien’s lobby is a gathering place for creative minds to converse, debate, and exchange, an innovative and re-interpreted hotel lobby concept. Guests are surrounded by curated contemporary, high-impact art installations. This environment awakens curiosity and stimulates thinking with dialogue and interaction encouraged through distinctive seating arrangements. The grey marble faceted feature wall defines the space, with contrasting textures – natural timber flooring, with brass metal details, and metal mesh panels.

The Lobby Lounge is the transitional bar which transforms from a daytime coffee lounge area into a night-time bar, accommodating various groups of furniture. Faceted brash mesh ceiling, timber wall and flooring, white marble counters, and black marble mosaic tiles create an interesting environment.

A ‘Chinois Chic’ restaurant where Shanghai décor is fused with modern simplicity is a mix of contemporary and Chinese elements paying tribute to Shanghai’s vast history and thriving position in modern China. Industrial details in juxtaposition with Chinese traditional arts create an atmosphere of cosmopolitan allure. Shikumen inspired elements is an urban counterpart against refined finishes, and traditional Chinese screens transformed into overlapping patterns contrast next to a rustic and painted mural wall.

The large private dining room is a patchwork of both imperial Chinese and colonial British influences. Colonial-style interior applications, combined with sophisticated contemporary furniture and an industrial warehouse aesthetic are balanced with soft oriental patterns and fabrics. The ceiling is inspired by Shanghai Art Deco and contrasts next to the Shikumen inspired wall finish. In the small private dining room, elements such as Shikumen inspired stone patterns while traditional Chinese paint brushes are arranged into modern details. Collections of ceramic are showcased to pay tribute to the rich connection between the history of the city and its waters.

The facilities in Le Méridien Shanghai, Minhang continue the narrative – the spa and swimming pool utilize light and shadow, inspired by Qibao shadow plays. The natural light is cast into beautiful patterns that define space and create an ephemeral experience. Layers of natural material reflect the rich layers of history of Qibao, with cool stones to contrast against warm accents.

The guestrooms and suites feature a sculptural shower with natural white graphical marble, accentuated with warm wood, brass metal and white marble as the background including an open wardrobe, artful furniture, lighting fixtures, and monochromatic rug.

“A considerable amount of contextual research was necessary in realizing the concept and executing it effectively,” said Carter. “We mind-map ideas and concepts based on these insights and apply them to various design details throughout the hotel from furniture to finishes and space planning.”

Qibao is located in the centre of Minhang District of Shanghai, only 18 kilometres (11.18 miles) from the downtown area. As the only ancient town forming part of greater Shanghai, it is considered by some imperative that the arts and rich history of Qibao are documented and preserved.

Project: Le Meridien Shanghai
Location: Qibao, Minhang, Shanghai, China
Design Studio: HBA
Photography: Le Méridien Shanghai, Minhang
Website: hba.com