The Arts Bridge Space, a newly opened collaborative hub in Shanghai, blends art, design, literature, and food for a unique experience that embraces creativity at every turn.
By Rachel Gallaher
The Arts Bridge Space in Shanghai, features a large, woven-bamboo installation that trails throughout the store.
It’s hard to miss the recently opened Arts Bridge Space, a hybrid bookstore, café, and creative hub located in Shanghai’s Hongkou District.
Designed by Chinese firm Infinity Mind, the space, housed in a series of repurposed shipping containers, features an intricate woven bamboo installation that works its way from the building’s façade (it looks like an undulating nest spilling out onto the sidewalk) and through the store to lead visitors to different sections of the building. A collaboration between Guangxi University Press, ACC Art Books, and Images Publishing, the hub will serve as an exhibition space, selling original art and design products, as well as offering an extensive range of books, drawn primarily from ACC Art Books and Images Publishing’s works and those of their partner publishers, including London’s Royal Academy Publishing and Tate Publishing. The bookstore’s inventive, eye-catching design embraces the spirit of creativity, hosting a spacious outdoor area, a cafe, and a 3D-printed reading room.
“The Arts Bridge Space was designed by Mr. Wang Xiaowen, who is the chief designer of Infinity Mind, says Wang Zongliang, acting store manager at the Arts Bridge Space. “His design concepts consistently focus on the experimental and exploratory nature of materials, combining various styles and visual elements together in one space to create organic interaction, and reducing materials to their essence. This kind of design does not override our daily experiences, rather it brings people back to their instinct to perceive their environment, the everyday materials around them, and the beauty of nature.”
Tables and shelving were designed by Xu Gang of Bentu using an alternative type of concrete made from recycled concrete and natural fibers.
Although the woven-bamboo installation—a nod to traditional craftsmanship that uses a bamboo weaving technique known as zhuji, a national cultural heritage from Qingshen County in the Sichuan Province—works to draw people into the store, it’s a juxtaposition to the modern bent of the rest of the design. Gray brick flooring and walls create a neutral backdrop and steel ceiling beams bring an industrial touch. The café brings a hit of color with a pink-and-blue bar crafted from dichroic panels. The 3D-printed reading room “is an architectural structure made by Xu Weiguo, professor at the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University in Beijing,” Zongliang says. “He is a pioneer of Chinese digital architectural design and has been engaged in research on digital design and digital construction since 2003.”
The coffee bar adds a bold splash of color to the otherwise neutral design scheme.
Furniture, including tables, chairs, and shelving, was designed by Xu Gang, founder of the product design brand Bentu using an alternative type of concrete made from recycled concrete and natural fibers. This idea of reuse is repeated in the shipping container structures that house the space, which, according to Zongliang, are a reflection of the surrounding neighborhood.
“Before [this area] became a hub for commercial, technological, and cultural companies, it was one of many container depositaries in Shanghai as an international port,” Zongliang says. “So, even after its transformation it still retains that historical trace, meanwhile cleverly making use of the containers as architectural structures themselves. The containers represent the most important vehicle in human trade as a means to share and communicate, which coincides with the mission of the international Arts Bridge project that is to spread art and design and engage in dialogue globally.”