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Celebrating the Napa Valley twilight in Shenzen

Chris Shao visited Chef Christopher Kostow at his farm in St. Helena, California. He had asked him to design his new restaurant Ensue atop the Futian Shangri-La Hotel in Shenzhen, China. Their initial conversations resulted in a combination of the natural landscape of Napa and Cantonese influences that honour the heritage of Shenzhen and with the aesthetics of wabi-sabi.

During their initial design briefing conversation for Ensue, Kostow asked Chris Shao: “what is your definition of luxury?” His response was that, to him, emotion evoked the greatest sense of luxury, as identifying luxury itself is a very deep and personal response to something. The chef then pointed to a tree on his farm and told Shao that that was his luxury.

Shao remembered that at that moment he made up my mind that in the process of designing his restaurant he was going to bring in an unpretentious naturalism in-spired by the urban landscape of Shenzhen: emotive, yet effortless. He aimed to find a new emotional representation of luxury, through unifying local vernacular, with contemporary ideas.

East meets West

A fusion of eastern ideas and philosophy, with western execution that created a space that evoked a specific sense of style and elegance. The concept was executed with a wabi-sabi aesthetic that celebrated transience and imperfection.

It cohesively suggests ‘a Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.’

“Being so personal, the entire process was an emotional one. This project is my new definition of luxury,”

Chris Shao, Chris Shao Studio

Furthermore, the space embodies an interesting interaction between the ideas of fire and ice; two sensory, visual, and conceptually jarring circumstances, that are unified in a way to create a calming sense of balance.

In Ensue, Shao personified many design intentions based on his Chinese upbringing. He explored the work of local artisans and manufacturers around the Canton region, to rethink and redefine the modern meaning of Made-in-China in the design industry. With more pride and few disappointments, Ensue really evokes new thinking of his culture that until now, is yet to be explored in relation to design.
“Being so personal, the entire process was an emotional one. This project is my new definition of luxury,” said Shao.

Photos by Lit Ma & Kelly Puleio Studio / Chris Shao Studio.