Project name: Mia Fringe
Location: Shanghai, China
Floor area: 1378㎡
Date of completion: August 2018
Interior Design: Kokaistudios
Chief Designers: Filippo Gabbiani, Andrea Destefanis
Project managers: Ian Yu, Yin-Ying Tseng
Design team: Wei Tse Hsieh, Joanna Xing, Suzy Zhang
Photography: Seth Powers
Text: Frances Arnold
A space in which to see and be seen, Mia Fringe is Shanghai’s newest multi-brand retail and dining destination. Inspired by the opulence, drama, and layered visibility of theater, Kokaistudios’ design showcases an eclectic array of men’s, women’s, and lifestyle brands to glamorous effect. With interiors to match the quirkiness of the brands, the space combines sophisticated glamour with playful eccentricity.
Spread across two floors, the 1,600sqm venue’s complex programming called for careful consideration in terms of directing visitors into and around the space. In addition to fashion retail, Mia Fringe also incorporates a flower shop, cafe, and restaurant, which come nightfall, transforms into an atmospheric lounge-bar concept. The challenge for designers was how to succinctly convey this lifestyle mix in a way that would capitalize on the store’s prime Huaihai Road location.
Two separate entrances make a clear distinction between Mia Fringe’s retail and F&B elements, signalling to passing foot traffic that this is as much of a destination for dining, as it is shopping. By entering either, visitors embark on a journey through distinctive spaces, each inspired by parts of a theater and peppered with playful motifs of performance and the stage.
Imagined as a rehearsal room, the downstairs retail space is home to the store’s more entry-level products, including high street fashion, athleisure wear, lifestyle accessories, and flowers. A deliberate lightness of materials - pale-colored wood and terrazzo, for example - sets a welcoming tone, in keeping with an imagined, relaxed backstage area.
A mirrored wall stretching the length of the space not only amplifies light, but also makes a playful nod to a theater’s rehearsal studio. Continuing the theme, garments are presented on horizontal rails, directly inspired by ballet barres.
An eye-catching main entrance welcomes visitors into the imagined theater’s front-of-house world. Framed by a deep recess, and under a canopy of exposed bulbs, it leads to the first of Mia Fringe’s two F&B locations: a ground floor cafe. A casual daytime spot, it serves coffee, tea, sandwiches and light bites. Beyond is a grandiose sweeping staircase, setting the stage for the venue's dramatic upstairs space.
Elegant light grey terrazzo steps are offset by dazzling walls of mosaic mirror, spanning both levels and extending to a third-floor office beyond. Comprising over 1,000 pieces of custom-cut antique-finished glass, studded with gleaming brass brackets, the area alludes to the edginess of the Mia Fringe concept by way of an unmistakably contemporary ripple glass balustrade. The material is a recurring motif throughout, with no fewer than six different types used across the venue’s various spaces.
For the best seats in the house, a more formal upstairs dining room is imagined as the well-appointed boxes and balconies of a classical theater. A place in which to take afternoon tea, brunch, as well as more substantial fare, come nightfall, a cast of bartenders perform their craft from an elegant bar area, positioned to mirror an orchestra pit.
The space offers expansive views onto a central atrium connecting the two floors, as well as into the second-floor retail area beyond. From this vantage point, repeated rows of horizontal hanging racks positioned throughout transitional areas imply layer upon layer of scenery tracks; while the vertical lines of a louver wall, as well as textured ripple glass on VIP room doors, are suggestive of stage curtains.
The stage in question showcases Mia Fringe’s most cutting-edge, high-end product lines, as well as a dedicated jewelry display room. Theatrical in tone, the space contrasts elegant materials - an abundance of walnut, parquet flooring, and touches of burnished brass, for example - with a consciously less polished wall finish of textured Marmo Antico plaster. The physical juxtaposition between textures refined and rough mirrors Mia Fringe’s curatorial approach of edgy sophistication. Throughout, product displays take the form of abstract wooden blocks, appearing as stage props in an unknown play.
A theatre of a space, inside of which visitors are invited to find their own persona and role, Mia Fringe is where narratives combine and stories unfold. For this reason, creating a backdrop that lends itself to sharing on social media was of particular importance. Currently making waves in Shanghai, Mia Fringe takes inspiration from an established trend for multipurpose concept stores, started in Europe, and blending carefully curated products with a palpable focus on experience, all within beautifully designed spaces.
A vibrant, day-long destination for shopping, dining, and more, Mia Fringe strikes a careful balance between sophisticated elegance and contemporary edge, lending new drama to Shanghai’s dynamic retail scene.
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