november 12, 2018 - Sense-Lab

Interiors/Exhibition/Retail Chinese Partner Shenzen Backyard

This project is based in one of the most important #baijiu factories in #china which belongs to the VATS, one of the three most powerful and awarded "honored-brands" for liquors.

The industrial complex is extraordinarily well looked and in recent years has become a major attraction for Chinese domestic tourism. SenseLab’s project was composed of several parts, that had to guarantee a number of educational and retail services. They should be able to welcome a few hundred thousand tourists a year, visiting the site without impacting on the regular production.

The reason why #senselab has been contacted, is for its sensory and time-based approach, in order to #design the experience in a memorable way. In fact, the factory provided extraordinary stimuli that had to be translated into #design quality. From olfactory walls made of sorghum scraps (raw material for producing the baijiu), to the cellars where in the terracotta jars the music "round up" and soften the taste of the liqueur.

The first intervention consisted in the creation of a "workshop" that, in fact, reproduces the production chain alongside, which serves tourists to understand -step by step- the line of production. The building that hosts the workshop is also a welcome "lounge" with services for tourists who start the visit. The lounge area and the workshop reinterpret the theme of local materials and od its storytelling.

Recovering ancient prints on the millennial production of #baijiu in #china, #senselab has created entire walls dedicated to this theme to underline the continuity over time and the spread in the territory of a product that exists in each home of #china... a sort of “must”. The lounge is located in a strategic position with respect to the tour of the site, because it is the point of arrival, meeting and departure. The lounge also hosts another element linked to the history of the factory, that nothing seems to do with it, but which explains many subsequent marketing decisions: a wedding corner.

Because of the environmental quality of the complex and because of the care for the green parts, the site is also loved by local couples for the shots of their wedding book. So the gardens are always full of couples and photographers trying to capture their most beautiful expressions. For this reason #senselab has decided to dedicate an area of the lounge to them to complete their shots. Naturally, this highlighted the existence of a greedy target for the company and has been decided to dedicate also other parts of the project to the couples.

Inside the workshop, an eco-museum area of traditional methods has been created, in front of which #senselab have placed a sort of small amphiteathre-staircase, first stage of a long tasting tour. The second part of the project concerns the ground floor of the main building, used for offices and laboratories of analysis, where the #baijiu are "tasted" and classified according to their organoleptic characteristics.

For this part, #senselab has redesigned the interiors of the ground floor -a few thousand square meters- and it has added an underground cellar in the shape of an amphitheater for private and special collections. At that point, the theme of personalization entered the game of the project and was declined in several parts. The second part of the project therefore consists of 3 parts: an exhibition/retail and experience area; a retail area; a cellar area. In the exhibition/retail part, we enter from a part dedicated to interaction with data and numbers concerning the #baijiu market in #china, with digital screens, large projections and holograms ending in a small theater/cinema hosting documentaries on the subject. Then it goes through a part dedicated to flavor, with 3 tasting rooms and 2 private rooms for the personalization and private collections.

We enter a third section dedicated to the sensorial experience, the heart of the project: 4 different areas try to extrapolate the “sound” of the extraordinary way of aging the #baijiu; then the olfactory one, with 4 diffusers that make you feel the aromatic difference of various aging; a tactile installation with 4 displays containing the raw materials and a central area for a further tasting.

The exhibition continues with a section dedicated to the brand, the history of the factory and its workers, and a photo gallery of political leaders visiting the site. The exhibition/retail part ends with a double spiral staircase to go uphill and then down, which goes through the advertising history of the brand. A central hall (which also coincides with the office lobby) serves as a connection with the retail area. This central part has a very important symbolic value. It is configured as the tomography of a large jar from #baijiu. In the center is located a long table, extracted from a single trunk of 20 meters, surrounded by chairs. It returns the theme of hospitality, typical of the Chinese culture.

On the inside of the "jar" are shown scenes of processing the #baijiu in the Chinese countryside. From here we walk down, descend through an exhibition corridor, and access 3 circular tholos used for the private and precious #baijiu collections. These 3 central volumes terminate in cones, open to the sky, that sprout outside creating a new landscape. Ascend from the cellar, we are in the retail area. This is divided into 3 product areas ranging from the cheapest and mass to the selected luxury range.

The last room develops, on triple height, a system of balconies that display the high-end collections. These walkways are accessed through two helical stairs, that avoid retracing the same path, trying to respect the tradition of feng shui still highly respected in that region. The project seeks, in an obsessive way, to recreate a palette of colors that come from the tradition of ceramics and historical woods and reach up to contemporary #china. These palettes were then crossed with the finishes of the surfaces and an articulated study of the lighting that had to illuminate the rooms, but also the displays and the furnishings.

The goal was to build a place belonging to the present, but building a continuity with the internal spaces of Chinese history. Therefore, the road #senselab followed, tried to remove the form from the center of the project (if not in the adopted patterns) and to focus on the primary and sensorial qualities of the spaces of that country. As for all the projects #senselab is developing in #china, the #design effort was to avoid an approach that tries to make all the places look like a single large duty free of an international airport. The opening of the site was in December 2017 and already in the early months, thousands of visitors came from all parts of #china to visit it.

All the furnishings have been designed by #senselab and produced by Shenzen Backyard Decoration Ltd.