To Shanghai… for a new design destination

Gubi House is a curated concept space conceived as a café and boutique hotel

GamFratesi’s Beetle chairs surround a marble-topped table in Shanghai’s Gubi House
GamFratesi’s Beetle chairs surround a marble-topped table in Shanghai’s Gubi House | Image: Chaos Programme

Gubi House, a century-old heritage-listed mansion in Shanghai’s French Concession, took five years to renovate. The concept space – design company Gubi’s first outside Denmark – opened its doors this month in partnership with lifestyle-brand Beast with a café, boutique hotel and event space spread over three floors. Throughout, furniture, lighting and accessories are composed as modern vignettes.

The 100-year-old mansion took five years to renovate
The 100-year-old mansion took five years to renovate | Image: Chaos Programme
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A muted palette of terrazzo and marble sets the scene in the café
A muted palette of terrazzo and marble sets the scene in the café | Image: Chaos Programme

“We wanted to introduce something different from the traditionally defined stores that characterise the retail industry in China, creating an experience that caters to all five senses,” says Jacob Gubi Olsen, owner and chief creative officer of Gubi. “As you enter, you experience the way the building sits in the garden, which alone took two years to complete, before moving into the café, which rests on the ground floor and spills into a yard that takes design cues from Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. The first floor is a celebration of hotel luxury. Then you move upstairs to realise the impact the collection can have on your home.”

Furniture such as these Gent chairs and accessories appear as “modern vignettes” throughout the mansion
Furniture such as these Gent chairs and accessories appear as “modern vignettes” throughout the mansion | Image: Chaos Programme
Pierre Paulin’s iconic Pacha chair sits in the corner of one of two hotel suites
Pierre Paulin’s iconic Pacha chair sits in the corner of one of two hotel suites | Image: Chaos Programme
The upper floor of the mansion creates living scenarios, enabling visitors to visualise the pieces in their home
The upper floor of the mansion creates living scenarios, enabling visitors to visualise the pieces in their home | Image: Chaos Programme

The spaces, which were conceived in collaboration with local design studio Chaos Programme, are complemented by art, design and floristry (a field in which Beast first made its name). The atmosphere is calm and serene, a pause from the bustle of the municipality, set to a blush-and-grey palette with terrazzo and marble detailing. 

A Beetle lounge chair sits beside a Gräshoppa floor lamp
A Beetle lounge chair sits beside a Gräshoppa floor lamp | Image: Chaos Programme
An Adnet mirror hangs in a bedroom suite
An Adnet mirror hangs in a bedroom suite | Image: Chaos Programme
The marble-lined outdoor terrace
The marble-lined outdoor terrace | Image: Dirk Weiblen

Each space features gems of design. Nestled amid foliage in the garden is Gubi’s latest Epic table teamed with Nagasaki chairs, conceived by Mathieu Matégot in 1954. Inside, GamFratesi’s Beetle chairs and the classic Bestlite lamp are paired with antiques and original artworks, owned and curated by Beast, which include paintings by Shanghai-based artist Zhang Enli. Pierre Paulin’s Pacha lounge chair, meanwhile, sits comfortably in one of the hotel’s two suites.

The space is designed as a serene retreat within the bustling municipality
The space is designed as a serene retreat within the bustling municipality | Image: Dirk Weiblen
An Epic table is teamed with Nagasaki chairs in the garden
An Epic table is teamed with Nagasaki chairs in the garden | Image: Chaos Programme
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The House is currently open to visitors by appointment only. “This approach is to avoid crowds, but the space will be fully opened as soon as it is safe to do so,” Olsen says, adding that they are looking forward to opening the hotel too. “The idea is that people can then fully experience the space and the collection.”

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