Originally constructed in 1905, the Shanghai Rowing Club clubhouse beside Suzhou Creek was earmarked for demolition until former members of the Club stepped in and appealed to the government to save the building. Now protected as a cultural heritage site, the structure is a classic Shanghai concession-era house and at one point featured one of the city’s first indoor swimming pools, parts of which have been preserved next door.
Having been spared demolition, the clubhouse has now been given a full makeover inside, with the space transformed into a bar and café, Shanghai Rose. A small stage upstairs is also set to host live jazz bands, can-can dancers and comedy acts according to the owners.
For the interior, they brought in Japanese photographer and film-maker Mika Ninagawa, whose works are known for their vibrant use of colour. Shooting for an ‘old Shanghai environment mixed with a Moulin Rouge energy’, Ninagawa has decked the space out in floral prints. The walls are daubed with large floral murals, rose (and goldfish) motifs adorn cushions and other furnishings, and the stairwell that links the first and second floors is covered in fake roses. Elsewhere, golden horse head sculptures appear beside exposed brickwork and red leather sofas, while extravagant chandeliers provide lighting.