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Slow Cooked Interior Design Culture

李静茹JellyLee 2017-01-21 11:36

With its design concept of cultural inheritance and modernization, the name "BNJN", which references the founders' names Ben and Jane, also serves as the motto of the of ce. Founder Jane Chen tells us that the inspiration for the office design of BNJN Design in Shanghai stems from challenges to itself, which strives to impress every visitor. Overlooking Shanghai's nancial heart of Lujiazui, the office is located by the Huangpu River with remnants of Shanghai's old city in the background. For this reason, modern and old Shanghai come together at this point. The combination of roof tiles, modern style, and handmade elements conveys a profound expression of the concept of BNJN Design: only by respecting tradition while pursuing innovation can one create truly eternal design.

Of course, in addition to their own of ce space, Chen and BNJN Design have completed many outstanding works of design, such as the design of the four layered concept store for Mayor in 2015. In an area of only 500 square metres, with four columns set in the middle, the design perfectly overcomes the lack of natural light and low ceiling height. Through re-analysis and pectination of space, BNJN Design caught up customers' expectations and met the brand positioning with unconventional design techniques. The unique scissor-type sculpture corresponds to the tailoring of the carpettying in neatly with the brand's couture menswear image.


Chen said fashion is like fast food, which gluts you with joy for a while, but overeating will do harm to your health. So she prefers to treat fashion as a "seasoning" rather than a meal. "Designers who place too much emphasis on fashion are bound to lose their ideas and therefore their direction." Merging inspirations with rational analysis, Chen considers every design a new challenge. As the awareness of projects differs from owner to owner, so there will be some obstacles and limitations to designs in the process. For this part, Chen insists on providing the best solution for owners. "Both architectural and interior design are practical arts. Drawing upon my experiences as an architect, I believe in the saying that formation followsfunction.Ibelievethatanyinspirationshould be practical at rst, so our inspiration does not simply come from pure conjecture; it's based on rm understanding of every owner and project."


Vantage: How did you meet Ben Goh, and what are your roles in the company?
Chen: Ben joined the interior design team as creative director when I was in AECOM. When I rst saw him in the conference room for the interview, I found him staring at the design details for conference tables, plus with his rich and cross-border experiences I thought he would be "a hands-on creative director". Such im- pression turned out exactly true through four years of cooperation and adaption. Ben focus more on design and creativity. Also, the experience of building up an interior design team from zero has equipped me with rich knowledge of team management and development.


Vantage: Design is so different from management. How do you switch between the two roles?
Chen: Design needs romance, but you cannot cast off reason; management is about reason, but you cannot manage a design company without romance. Switch- ing between the two roles requires clear awareness of whether you are solving the design thing or the management thing. In addition, in order to gure out the border and reach the balance between reason and romance, you need to thoroughly understand every project and every member of the team.


Vantage: As tastes are always evolving, how do you feel when you look back on your company's earlier work? 

Chen: Now, looking at the work completed two years ago with feedback from visiting customers, it feels to me that good work is like a painting or a book. It can stun you at rst glance and continue to enlighten you through repeated observation. I have been always thinking that Shanghai is like a kaleidoscope, where the shikumen, Garden Bridge of Shanghai, Art Deco of the Bund inspires part of our design.

Vantage: What do you think of the fashion trends of the interior design in Shanghai, like the "industrial" trend a few years ago?
My attitude towards them is just to "have a look" and "know about" them. China is very broad with a large population where the level and the taste differ from owner to owner, and there are a lot of de- sign projects remaining. It is when diverse cultures and designs pour in the market that we could meet the needs of different groups of people. Instead of "fashion trends", BNJN Design pays more attention to the devel- opment trend and the future. Durability and lasting enchantment carve out real challenges, requiring us to research and develop and explore the future trend. Those fashion trends only make the surface, how the design adapts to the future development trend is the essence.


Vantage: In your opinion, what stage of interior design is Shanghai currently at? What kind of chal- lenges will appear in the future in this industry?

Chen: Well, currently the "Belt and Road" policy puts forward opportunities and thinking that Shanghai stages a well-made platform as a nancial centre and brings great opportunities for the globalization of domestic enterprises. As a result, many headquarters of domestic enterprises have come to build roots in Shanghai. But this is just their rst step toward the world. For BNJN Design, we will cooperate with these rapid developing enterprises and both sides are at an exploratory stage: domestic enterprises are exploring organizational struc- ture and corporate image in line with globalization, while BNJN Design is trying to combine the concept of internationalization with Chinese characteristic design concept to create the correct images for those domestic enterprises entering the international market. So BNJN Design has been serving the domestic enterprise from the perspective of the "Global Vision" in a Chinese con- text. Of course, the future trend of Shanghai and even of China must be developing towards a well-formed market. Therefore, future challenges for the interior design industry will be bigger; after entering the interna- tional market, a lot of domestic enterprises will require designers to build international images from a more international view.


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