Interior design secrets

Expert insider tips on where to go to decorate your home

Where do the city’s top interior designers go to decorate their own homes? Benoit Arfeuillere, the man behind spectacular designs such as David Laris’ Funky Chicken and 12 Chairs, reveals his insider’s tips to Anna Leach

Haoshijia Lighting Market

At this huge warehouse space in Minhang, a wide variety of lighting shops vie for attention. Amid the purveyors of over-the-top chandeliers and tacky spotlights, Dariel & Arfeuillere found one they like, Sui Yuan Lighting, on the second floor, which sells well-made copies of top European lighting designs at a tenth of the original price.
‘For us interior designers the lighting is so important,’ says Arfeuillere. ‘Everyone wants fantastic lighting in the entrance to their restaurant or in their living room.’ He also says that getting new lighting is a good way to get a new look in your home without a lot of work or expense. ‘Lighting is like an accessory, every year you can get new lighting and it will change the whole atmosphere in your apartment.’

What they got here Desk lamp chandelier, 2,400RMB.

Where they used it For the office of a fashion designer’s apartment in Xintiandi. ‘We created the space according to the shape of this light,’ says Artfeuillere. ‘We designed a round office studio and it fits perfectly.’

Haoshijia Lighting Market address details


Dutch furniture company Kenas manufactured their rustic European-style furniture in China for 15 years before they started selling it here two years ago. They have a showroom/factory out in Jiading and a shop for the general public in the 1933 building in Hongkou.

‘We like their stuff because what is missing in China is all these strong natural, real materials,’ says Artfeuillere. ‘Everything is raw and rough, they import all their materials from abroad.’

Dariel & Arfeuillere used Kenas furniture for three of David Laris’ restaurants: The Fat Olive, Yucca and 12 Chairs. For the The Fat Olive, a Greek restaurant, the furniture fitted the Mediterranean vibe but for Yucca, a Mexican lounge bar, they had the furniture customised with brighter colours to suit the Latino look. In 12 Chairs, a concept where 12 diners can eat around one table like they are at a classy dinner party, Dariel & Arfeuillere used a dozen different French-influenced dining chairs.

What they got here Rustic modern chairs, 2,500RMB/each.

Where they used it 12 Chairs, David Laris’ restaurant in Sinan Mansions. ‘The chairs were expensive but people will sit on them for two hours so they need to be very comfortable,’ says Arfeuillere.

Kenas address details

Le Rexo

Dariel & Arfeuillere use French furniture store Le Rexo for made-to-order Chinese-influenced pieces, but it comes at a price. The showroom is populated with traditional cabinets and wardrobes with a twist and heavy wood tables and chairs. Owner Cedric Rexovice has been in the business for six years but recently moved the showroom into a space in the same building as Colorbox creative arts school on Xiangyang Lu.

‘He’s like the fabric market for furniture,’ says Arfeuillere, as people regularly come in with a drawing or a photo of what they want and Le Rexo’s craftsmen create a cabinet, for example, to fit a specific space in the customer’s home.

They have two levels of quality and price, standard and high-end, and different craftsmen at their factory in Shanghai work on each level. The high-end furniture is made without nails or screws. ‘For us it’s nice because we can choose every aspect including the materials and the colours,’ says Arfeuillere.

What they got here Elm wood kissing chairs, 4,200RMB.

Where they used it Kartel, the new Xiangyang Lu wine bar

Le Rexo address details

Caojiadu Flower Market

Caojiadu Flower Market is a three-floor warehouse with beautiful lush trees and plants at wholesale prices. As well as cheap plants (100-230RMB), you can get ceramic pots to use in a garden or in the home.
Dariel & Arfeuillere come here toward the end of a project to get the finishing touches. Upst
airs you can get sturdy candles for 12-35RMB each (stall F60, second floor), household containers and transparent jars. ‘It’s not great quality but if it’s on display on a shelf, and you don’t use it too much it doesn’t matter,’ says Arfeuillere.

Other stalls sell feathers, fake flowers and kitschy statuettes of greyhounds. Together it all looks very tacky but you might find one item that adds a quirky touch to your home. ‘It’s the place to come if you want to be a bit artistic,’ says Arfeuillere.

What they got here One metre high blue glaze vase, 130RMB

Where they used it In a Sheshan villa’s landscaped garden. ‘Or you could use it inside as an umbrella stand, for example,’ says Arfeuillere.

Caojiadu Flower Market address details

Benoit Arfeuillere is a partner in Dariel & Arfeuillere - a Lime 388 Company. See for details.

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