Inspired by inverted values and unconventional beauty, a concept shop in Shanghai resembles a giant mirror with perplexing reflections.

Mimicking M.C. Escher’s never-ending staircases, the store is filled with concrete staircases that are upright, upside-down and suspended from walls.

‘The design was fast and spontaneous, and I designed like a child without inhibitions,’ says architect Francesco Gatti. ‘The philosophy of Alter, as the word suggests, is to be inspired by an alternative world.’

During the design process, the stairs became an independent element, wrapping through the space like folded paper to create dizzying results.

Gatti says Shanghai is a very conservative city, and people are not yet prepared to accept new ideas and concepts, especially if they work against local business values. Gatti and the store’s owner, Sonja Long, took a risky leap in realizing the unconventional space.