What do you do with a 1930s art deco cinema that has fame locally but that is in need of restoration? In Shanghai the answer is that you turn it into a store for luxury Chinese fashion and accessories brand Shanghai Tang.
The Shanghai Tang Cathay Mansion has just opened and, at 10,000 sq ft and spread over multiple floors, it is the brand’s largest outlet in China.
And although it is no longer a cinema, reference is made throughout the shop to the building’s former life with light boxes featuring movie posters and ceilings decorated with the film industry’s golden age in the shape of deco stars.
A sweeping spiral staircase adds to the effect, as does the extensive use of rows of pendant lights and walls that are covered with a mosaic of mirrored micro tiles.
The clothing ranges are displayed in a luxury domestic setting where deco standard lights provide the illumination for brightly upholstered chairs that sit within a restrained but opulent interior where dark wood and lacquer are to the fore. It has been recently estimated that shoppers in the Far East account for 75% of global luxury sales, on which reckoning the high level fit-out of this store in the heart of China’s commercial capital seems appropriate.
It is also a good use of an old building, and there are not that many of them left in Shanghai, by a brand whose stock in trade is to leverage its Chinese heritage.
On the outside of the store, the original glory of the ‘Cathay’ logo has been retained, giving a real sense of the Shanghai that lovers of Indiana Jones might feel at home with.