The literal and the fantastical laboratory for ideas by X+Living

SHANGHAI – On 21 February, the spectacular Frame Awards Show saw X+Living recognized for the studio’s achievements with the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chengdu winning Multi-Brand Store of the Year. President and creative director Li Xiang – named one of Frame’s 20 creatives framing the future in 2017 – lead the design team for the new 1,100-sq-m retail, research and office space for Powerlong.

The workplace on the second floor exudes a playful yet restrained atmosphere with Gothic details.

The corporation, which has business interests in sectors such as hospitality and tourism, culture and arts, and industry and information, wanted its Ideas Lab to be a multifunctional space where consumers, creators and Powerlong staff alike could come together for the research and development of information technology. The rather surprising inspiration for X+Living’s design in response to this futuristic vision? The industrial revolution. While steam engines and 18th-century factories might seem to be objectively and aesthetically at odds with today’s information age, X+Living finds the former evocative of modern innovation in that it ‘equipped industries with subversive technology’ that brought enlightenment to the world.

The studio ‘cut off the complex parts’ of classic factories, utilizing only basic functional elements such as reaction tanks, pipes and elevated walking platforms for engineers in the design. These practical compositions also became the starting point for the corresponding areas in the space: the ‘reaction tanks’ offer new retail experiences to customers, with different devices in different tanks. Meanwhile, exposed ‘energy delivery pipes’ run across the floors, turned to the practical purpose of hiding wires and air-conditioning cables and informing the furniture throughout the space.

A series of tables and chairs echo the shape of the pipes, adding layers to the structured yet fluid composition of the space.

X+Living was awarded Designer of the Year at the 2018 Frame Awards.

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