When it came to renovating the waterfront apartment he shares with his partner in Shanghai, interior architect and art collector Chasing Wang eschewed fashion and trends for a more personal and thus lasting gesture. Rather than selecting the furnishings in accordance with an overall aesthetic, Wang, who is the founder of Shanghai-based multi-disciplinary practice Nong Studio, turned the design process on its head, assembling a diverse collection of art and design pieces for the sole reason that he loves them, and then intuitively combining them in bold yet elegant compositions. Just like the free-styling arrangements of Jazz musicians, Wang’s mix-and-match approach works despite the stylistic “incoherence” that crops up at first glance. From antique, to Art Deco, to modernist and post-modern pieces, Chinese murals, Moroccan rugs, all the way through to contemporary paintings, the apartment is a paradigm of eclecticism and a creative expression, as well as a testament to Wang’s iconoclastic design ethos.
Entering into the living and dining area, a subdued colour palette of white, beige and grey provides a backdrop for a vibrant and diverse collection of artworks densely displayed above a minimalist black marble fireplace. In the sitting area, a curved grey sofa by Ligne Roset is complemented by a post-modern all-glass coffee table, a vintage floor lamp from the 1960s, and a couple of vintage Lady Chairs designed by Marco Zanuso in the 1950s, which have been re-upholstered in emerald green and hounds-tooth fabrics. In the dining area, an oval marble table by iconic 20th century Italian designer Angelo Mangiarotti is paired with Philip Stark’s Costes armchairs from the 1980s and vintage Thonet chairs, while Franco Albini’s emblematic 1940s Veliero bookshelf for Cassina houses Wang’s figurine collection.
The living room opens up to the study which swaps the former’s muted tones for a much more dramatic ambience encapsulated by a black and white wallpaper depicting scenes from the opera. Taking centre stage, a vintage teak desk manufactured by an Italian craftsman is complemented by a curvaceous brass bookshelf that echoes the curves of the desk, as do an antique 18th century tête-à-tête chair and a pair of Art Deco lamps from the 1925 Paris Expo placed on top of a modern walnut cabinet.
Swathed in cherry-red wall paint, the tea room is a treasure trove of vintage furnishings sourced from all over the world. The opulent design of a vintage Peacock Chair from the 1960s is juxtaposed with the stern geometry of Charles R. Macintosh’s Hill House Chair designed in 1903 and the quirky 1980s design of both a RR226 Radiofonografo by Brionvega and a Super Lamp by Martine Bedin (co-founder of the Memphis group), while a Moroccan-style coffee table, a Tibetan Buddhist painting and a Shanghai Art Deco brass pendent lamp add ethnic accents.
Wang’s mix-and-match approach also extends to the bedroom which features light-toned veneer wall panels, a pair of French Napoleon III style brass red-velvet chairs - used as nightstands - and an Art Deco marble fireplace that echoes the black and white palette of a handmade Morocco rug and shell-shaped marble wall scone. In the adjacent dressing room, the combination of mirrored closet doors with a colourful Paper Cuts Outs (Gouaches Découpés) carpet by Henri Matisse creates a kaleidoscopic effect of infinite reflections in what is a playful juxtaposition with the elegant sophistication of the bedroom, only further attesting to the iconoclastic boldness of Wang’s design ethos.