Designing for yourself: the JG PHOENIX studios in Shenzhen


Ouyang Yun,

Shenzhen, China,


Chinese design practice JG PHOENIX, founded in 2008, designed its own offices in Shenzhen, offering tangible proof of the architects’ creative philosophy conveying their characteristic team spirit of communication and cooperation.

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Designing for yourself: the JG PHOENIX studios in Shenzhen
It’s always interesting when architectural practices design their own workspaces. Because it’s one thing to come up with a design for a client, with all the limitations that may apply, from budget to personal taste, and another to give free rein to the ideas inspiring the studio’s work.
This is why the design of the studios of JG PHOENIX in Shenzhen acts as a sort of litmus paper testing the creativity and concepts of founder Ye Hui and his team. The name of the practice says a lot about it, as the words "JIN" and "GU" mean "present" and "past" in Chinese. As Ye Hui explains: „"Modern and ancient" refers to the time line that runs through history. "Today" wouldn't come into being if there were no extension of ancient matters. If there were no such noun as “today”, how could we talk about the things of the past? Phoenix, representing the spirit of the east, is the cultural identification that inherits China's 5,000 years of history.
And in fact the architects chose to pay tribute to the past in their workspace in Shenzhen, while at the same time expressing the expectations and rich imagination of the spatial design of the future. 
But let us see how the designers addressed this challenge in a 400-square-metre anonymous existing space in an office block. JG PHOENIX wanted to express the design concepts they support in the space, while at the same time introducing materials conveying an oriental fascination, establishing a dialogue and fusion between the past and the present. For, as the designers know well, „endowed with spirituality, space is intended to influence users' thoughts and life“. A fact of great importance all the time, but especially in a creative workspace. 
The designers retained not only the existing concrete columns but the texture of the rough concrete on the walls, which becomes a key characterising element of the space. This high-impact solution saved money and speeded up the work while creating a pleasing contrast with the wooden elements used in the project. This typically contemporary idiom is combined with brass and red travertine adding a touch of oriental charm, and with textured artistic paint: a stimulating combination underlining JG PHOENIX’s intention of creating a harmonious atmosphere using „simple materials, invisible expressions and silent reflection penetrating the minds of each person.“ 
These details are underlined by skilful use of light, both natural and artificial, creating shadows that add another layer to the spatial narration. The furniture chosen for the office is very important, including items in vintage style and modern pieces in Bauhaus style, expressing the studio’s desire to combine rationality with sensibility in the office space. Smart systems improve the performance of the space and ensure a pleasing experience for users.
Artworks located at strategic points, from the big shared open space to the more private meeting rooms, complete the scenography of JG PHOENIX’s studios. Most of them are wooden sculptures conveying the spirit of teamwork, communication and cooperation. The result is an office of great elegance where users feel good thanks to the quality of the design.

Christiane Bürklein

Location: Shenzhen, China
Year: 2022
Images: Ouyang Yun


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