Suzhou, China – Shanghai-based design studio X+Living doesn’t discriminate between work and play when it comes to applying their trademark, fantasy-driven aesthetic.
Their portfolio boasts immersive bookstores, fanciful shopping malls, even co-working spaces that seem they’ve arisen from the rabbit hole Alice fell down – ‘wonder’ is a descriptor oft used in our coverage of their work. And it begs another use, to illustrate the atmosphere of Loong Swim Club, a parent-child sports centre in Suzhou designed by the team.
X+Living’s previous projects all share a common denominator of ageless whimsy. But functionally, they’re also expressions of the team’s aim to build spaces that make both relaxation for parents and entertainment for children possible.
This ethos was admirable to the Loong Swim Club business, which is present in over 10 major Chinese cities. For its newest 2,200-sq-m centre in Suzhou, X+Living was briefed to create a space with a streamlined flow, one that’d target the habits and preferences of its users, young and old. It is their most design-centric post yet, and fits in with ilk hospitality endeavours in the country as of late, too focused on offering multi-functional leisure.
The reception area is home to a big whale that wraps around a column and a desk shaped as ship. As one proceeds, they find the core area – the swimming pool – blanketed in mist, with giant lamps shaped as water droplets hanging dreamily overhead. It is neighboured by a quiet reading area in which parents can observe their child’s lesson – who can look back to them for comfort and reassurance – through arched windows.
When tykes have backstroked and butterflied to their heart’s content, the spatial fairy-tale doesn’t have to end. The bathing and changing spaces, as well as the restaurant complete with a play area, are all cloaked in soft pastels and bold black lines that continue the visual storyline.