Absolute Flower Shop by More Design Office

More Design Office (MDO),

Dirk Weiblen, Yichen Ding,


Free Time,

Interior Design, Landscaping, Refurbishment,

Chinese firm More Design Office has created a very distinctive flower shop in Shanghai. The Absolute Flower Shop on the ground floor of an old colonial house is a gallery, manmade landscape and secret garden all rolled into one. One room leads to the next, where the neutral colour palette sets the scene for the owner’s floral arrangements.

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Absolute Flower Shop by More Design Office Anfu Lu is one of the most picturesque streets in Shanghai. It consists of an 850-metre stretch tucked away amongst the trees in Old Xuhui, within the former French Concession. Lined with quaint boutiques, delicious dining options, cosy coffeehouses, intimate wine bars, and modern interior decor stores, it’s also home to Absolute Flowers, the flower shop owned and run by Ms Jing. 
She established Absolute Flower Shop in 2012 and over the past 8 years, the boutique has created many stunning works of art that explore the boundaries between the natural and the artificial, often presenting the flowers in surreal yet magical displays. When Ms Jing approached the creatives at More Design Office (MDO) for her new flower shop on the ground floor of an old colonial house, they were immediately happy to take up the challenge. As soon as they saw the flower arrangements displayed in a white space, they realised that a neutral backdrop was essential for the presentation and made it a fundamental part of their project.
The 100-square-metre shop consists of a sequence of compartmentalised spaces that open onto a large back garden, a rarity in Shanghai. MDO conceived the project as a linear journey of reveal. Each area sets up a unique interaction with the floral compositions and the visitor. Their work manifests as a series of inserts within the existing rooms, where stainless steel frames contrast with the rough texture of the old walls.
The design is broken down into three core elements: a gallery, an artificial landscape and a secret garden. The gallery contains a small window onto the street front, dating back to when the local community would buy their wares every day, directly from the street. Now it lets the light in and gives passers-by a sneak peek of the works on display. When people step inside, they are immediately confronted with a digital screen that showcases past works before entering the shop’s heart. In this artificial landscape, the arrangements are displayed on stone and steel plinths of varying heights and sizes. A private studio transitions into the main gallery where the owner has room to work on more large-scale installations. In turn, visitors can get a glimpse of the new creations in the garden through a large translucent window framed in wrought iron as they pass through the studio,
which ends at the back of the house, opening onto the secret garden, a generous 100-square-metre space, unique in Shanghai. 
The garden is a place to relax, where the owner can enjoy tea with her friends. MDO decided to incorporate the single tree already growing there into their project as a kind of shelter, wrapping an L-shaped bench around and under it to create a quiet oasis in the heart of the city. The seating area is designed as a series of planes. The tree’s verticality is balanced by a water feature and low-lying planted area. 
The Absolute Flower Shop also has impalpable elements incorporated into the design - sound and memory. The crunch of gravel underfoot in the garden conjures up memories of country paths. At the same time, the gentle trickle of water evokes peace and tranquillity. MDO has created a paradise in the heart of Shanghai, worth a visit, and not just for flower lovers!

Christiane Bürklein

Project: More Design Office (MDO) https://moredesignoffice.com/
Design Directors: Jaycee Chui, Justin Bridgland
Designers: Da Gao, Lorenzo Lanzani, Peng Zhao, Di Chang
Location: No. 193, Anfu Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China
Year: 2020
Images: Dirk Weiblen, Yichen Ding


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