Update Strictly Designers United has moved to a new space on 55 Fuxing Dong Lu. The below write up is based on the original space on Waima Lu.
A gallery-cum-showroom set in a vast (570-metre) light-flooded space near the Cool Docks, Strictly Designers United is a space to get excited about. Dutch founder Cengiz Orhan says that the store will be much more than a static showroom, hosting events such as the closet swap and local English-language drama, along with literary readings, theatrical performances and even a Sunday tea dance. ‘We hope it will develop into a creative hub,’ says Orhan. ‘I like the idea of people dropping by to paint, perform or just lounge outside on beanbags on a sunny afternoon.’
When it is in plain shop mode, SDU’s stark space features a range of offerings from local fashion designers (from 500RMB). These include Shanghai Fashion Week regulars Helen Lee and Alex Zheng, luxury vintage-inspired label Les Lucioles, William the Beekeeper
's in-house brand Kaileeni, plus new arrivals Xue Liang, My Shanghai Closet and Skinni Pants. With a French fashion institute due to take over the neighbouring unit, Orhan is hoping for some cross-pollination of talent too: fashion shows and ‘open stitching’ sessions using the store’s sewing machine are both planned.
Artwork is also on offer (3,000-50,000RMB), with the highlights being Zhao Rong Jie’s acid-etched landscapes and a striking screen by Xiao Bin, made of painted fabric cubes that can be aligned, Rubik’s Cube style, to display colourful Paris and Shanghai scenes. Many of the featured artists are young graduates of southwest Chongqing’s fine art college, where Xiao Bin lectures.
Interiors-wise, check out Orhan’s own brand, Strictly Furniture (from 1,500RMB): his pieces are currently gracing the interiors of Heirloom’s Xintiandi store, Kartel and the Johnnie Walker bar.
By Selena Schleh