Lifestyle Academy in Shanghai, China by Mur Mur Lab.
Shanghai-based studio Mur Mur Lab seems to have a fondness for futuristic, ultramodern retail spaces. Their work is centred on creating playful shopping destinations, which capture a sense of theatre and escapism – those elements of retail that are ever relevant even in the dot com era. Nic’s Planet in Shanghai is Mur Mur Lab’s answer to Colette (RIP, #ColetteForever) – a clothing mecca set across a series of elliptically shaped rooms. Now, they have revealed Lifestyle Academy: a three-storey, free-standing complex which features a ground floor hair salon, upstairs retail space, and then production and logistics areas.
The project is a renovation of an existing barber shop – and has been intended to redefine the regular cut and colour experience. It’s both of the moment, with materials like icy glass blocks, silver terrazzo, and a recurring motif of modern arches, but also echoes a little of the slick, minimalist-style salon design of the 80s and 90s.
Screens of glass blocks cover segments of the building’s façade, revealing just pockets of the activity inside. The first floor is designed to be like an immersive theatre, where salon guests are the performers in their own play. Wrapped in cool grey terrazzo with a dome-like timber canopy, it’s both cold and warm. Arch shapes distort the perimeter of the space – appearing in different sizes and shapes, they feel like frames – bordering individual performances inside.
Mur Mur Lab is especially interested in the future shopping mall – not the escalator-clad, consumerist magnets of the past – but architecturally experiential, dream-like environments that ask us to leave the ho-hum world behind.