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Nanxun Style Hidden in A Boutique Hotel

Anna Zhong 2018-04-11 09:34

Blossom Hill, the boutique hotel chain that originated in Yunnan’s picture perfect Yunnan has already opened quite a few branch hotels in prestigious travel resorts and popular cities including Shangri-La, Zhouzhuang, Suzhou, Xixi, Langzhong, Wuxi, and Tongli. Recently, the newest branch opened in Nanxun, Huzhou of Zhejiang Province.

This is actually a renovation project of an old mansion. “Repair as it should be” is the golden rule to show proper respect to the culture and history, as well as the perfect approach to bring vitality to the historic mansion. For Thomas Dariel, a French designer who has worked in China for more than a decade, the Nanxun Blossom Hill is one of his proudest achievements.

According to A Note on Chuanshu Hall by Wang Guowei, Huzhou of Zhejiang Province is known as the “hometown of the library”. In the early days of Republic of China, Nanxun town witnessed the erection of a marvellous library – Jiaye Hall, built by the richest person in Nanxun, Liu Cheng’gan. In 1930, the owner of the grandiose library built a villa next to the Jiaye Hall and named it as “Qiushu Li”.

Dariel Studio meticulously and creatively repaired three independent Ming and Qing dynasty style buildings and eventually combined them into a boutique hotel with 20 suites. Meanwhile, certain parts were carefully modified and elevated to a higher level and maintained the original historic taste of the overall structure. With its new lease of life, it was also given with a new name – Nanxun Blossom Hill Boutique Hotel Qiushu Li.

The general guideline of Dariel Studio’s design is originated by the achievements of Liu Cheng’gan’s book collection. The idea of “collect” is extracted as the starting point of the design, and with the accompany of different design methods and elements, the story of Nanxun and Qiushu Li is thus being told. From the achievements of Liu Cheng’gan’s book collection, to the beautiful scenery of Southern China gardens, to the modern desires of hiding in nature or the aspiration of getting rid of the pressures and worries of daily life, every aspect is given detailed interpretation through the boutique hotel.


In terms of the spatial structure, Nanxun Blossom Hill Boutique Hotel Qiushu Li combines features from Shanghai’s lilongs and Suzhou’s gardens. The first sight upon entering the hall is an impressive one: a Shanghai lilong style long lane stretches along, and a western style gate house standing in the middle with the four characters, “Zhe Xi Xiao Yin” engraved on them. “Zhe Xi” implies the stream flowing through Xiaolian Zhuang and Jiaye Library – Zhegu Stream, while “Xiao Yin” indicates the saying of “the true hermitage is in the madding crowd, and the minor hermitage lies in the wilderness.”

It said that the golden toad on the gate house is the trademark of Liu family’s silk business. Nanxun is known as a prosperous town relying upon the silk industry. For the Liu family, silk is the pillar of their wealth and hence the element of silk is a must in their estate. The designer deliberately combined “silk” and “hidden” elements in the public area: the hall and the recreation area are backgrounded by the closets featured with the “hidden” idea to present the unspeakable charm. While the knitted geometric-shaped silk screens divide the various functional spaces into different areas, and in the restaurant, silk is a key element in the ceiling’s decoration. The blue and red fiery strips made from raw silk fly across the ceiling, creating a fantastic visual scene for the guests.


“Yu Qiao Geng Du” represents fishermen, woodcutters, farmers and scholars. These are the four major occupations in the ancient Chinese agrarian society and they stand for the basic lifestyles of the ancient Chinese. At the same time, they are also the metaphors used by government officials to indicate their life after retirement. Therefore, “Yu Qiao Geng Du” is often featured in traditional Chinese folklore paintings to express the wish of a free, serene, and pastoral way of life.


Thomas Dariel drew inspiration from this cultural spirit and combined it with garden features of southern China. The theme of the guest rooms is defined as “Farming, Gardening and Fishing” to correspond with the historic and cultural elements of the town. Thomas Dariel chose lively colours to match the three key themes: orange represents farming land, green pairs with gardening and ocean blue echoes the experience of fishing. Designers attach great importance to detailing that relies heavily on the choice of materials and artworks. The orange series of guest rooms are decorated with bamboo weavings and paintings vividly depicting the local figures and life. A blue wall with an ocean wave pattern provides a sensation of being gently embraced by waves of water.

The traditional brick- and wood-carving techniques are the fruit of agrarian society and now they could only be spotted in farmer paintings. To better preserve the local culture and traditional architecture, all the brick and woodcarvings were kept during the renovation process and were optimized to the best possible condition. All these efforts were dedicated to provide the most original and immersive experience for the residents. The partition boards of outer and inner houses are carved with traditional patterns of “Yu Qiao Geng Du”. All the objects, from the pagodas to the trees and flowers and persons, are vividly presented through the carvings. The carving techniques are featured with shifting perspectives and surface spreading, which are similar to the Suzhou embroidery techniques, that are “dense yet sparse”.

Thomas Dariel, known for fusing together Chinese and French culture elements, combines Chinese traditional culture with Western modern style perfectly in this project. The green and ocean blue suite series match with Maison Dada’s Lazy Susan coffee table and integrate perfectly with the Chinese style environment, and add a touch of humour and romance. The Little Eliah flying table lamps portray a distinctly French playfulness and freedom, as if likely to jump out from the present space and time. Chinese and western style decorations echo with each other and result in a perfect combination of modern and classic.


About Dariel Studio

Dariel Studio is a multi-award winning interior design company founded in Shanghai in 2006 by French designer Thomas Dariel. Since its establishment, Dariel Studio has completed over 60 projects of the highest quality in hospitality, commercial, and residential design.

The studio counts today a team of 25 professionals coming from various countries and backgrounds driven by the same passion for design. Dariel Studio manages to reach originality and creativity while also performing in project management - a double focus that led the company to be recognized and honoured for its ability to lead projects from concept up to execution.

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