Located in a sycamore-tree lined neighbourhood in Shanghai, Bar Lotus is a cosy daytime café which seamlessly transitions into a moody and intriguing cocktail bar in the evening. Office AIO was originally approached to design a cocktail bar, but the client eventually encouraged the studio to take on the challenge of incorporating a café within the space in order to optimize its premium location.

The site’s layout is formed by two staggered rectangular rooms which, prior, had no existing opening towards the street. Lead designer Tim Kwan’s approach was to dissect the odd-shaped floor plan into one smaller and one larger half by means of an invisible division – limiting access between the street-facing southern seating sector and the windowless northern sector. The space is further divided into five main zones: central gallery, reception/coffee bar, cocktail bar, and two separate seating areas.

Top: The understated entrance was designed to calm the senses of visitors and to serve as a backdrop to the shadows of the dense sycamore trees. | Middle: An intriguing temple-like atmosphere is found in the central social space which features emerald green textured plaster, a shimmering undulating rose gold stainless sheet ceiling, and a slender bar of Rossa Lavanto marble; Accessible from the archways in the central gallery, this open seating area’s continuous and boundless walls and ceiling are finished with a warm antique ivory hue, decorated with suspended custom lights by Office AIO. | Bottom: Across the gallery, a deep archway leads into the travertine-lined room with custom-made woven poufs by Whyknot in pastel pink and grey, and crowned with a minimal ring of light floating above. 

Daytime visitors enjoy the sun-filled smaller seating area straight off the pavement. At night, the heart of the bar comes alive as the invisible division slides open, allowing patrons to see through and explore the cocktail area freely. The café is repurposed to accommodate a larger night crowd: the coffee counter becomes the coat check and reception and the seating area a private room for small parties.

One of the highlights of the space is the imposing northern seating area following a U-shaped layout. With an almost sacred atmosphere, this space establishes a rhythmic circulation, allowing for more social interaction.


This project was featured in the latest volume of our hospitalty-design series, Night Fever 6. Get your copy here.