bylu design has introduced the new materials experience center (MEC) for knitting machinery company santoni, located in shanghai, china. the new building, is a contemporary research and inspiration center for leading professionals of the textiles industry to meet clients, research ideas and work on bespoke projects. it is expected to emerge as a pivotal space for inspiration, ideation, implementation and knowledge sharing.

bylu designs minimal, high-tech research center for textile machinery company in china

all images by sven zhang



santoni requested a space that was flexible and easy to adapt to different uses and projects. to accomplish this goal, bylu design designed the MEC with an adjustable hanging light system and low-levelled cabinets that were easy to move around. the idea was that the client could effortlessly slot in different products, samples and demonstrations within the space, using the areas provided. the company also wanted the space to be open, luminous and high-tech. the architects used crisp white paint and a terrazzo floor which enhanced and reflected the light coming in from the windows. in addition, they added elements like metal mesh, stainless steel, led walls and touchscreens. in the areas where the interior needed to feel warm and welcoming, wooden floors and pastel colours were used. the result is a clean, sophisticated and airy space where one feels in harmony with all that is technological and futuristic.

bylu designs minimal, high-tech research center for textile machinery company in china
concept area



the first area that visitors encounter is the entrance which connects the reception area of the santoni factory with the MEC.this isn’t just an entrance,’ chief architect luigi arcadu says, ‘it’s an experience, a symbolic passage from the present to the future of knitting technology‘. the exterior shape of the entrance is a parallelepiped covered with aluminium stainless-steel panels. the interior is painted electric blue and has a slight reverse-funnel effect that ends on a transparent led wall. upon passing the entrance, visitors face the concept area containing two white cubes, digital screens for presentations and a LED wall. up next is the impressive exhibition area dedicated to santoni’s machinery, fabrics and production process. this room has been divided into three different zones, each of which stands out as unique thanks to their different hanging light systems, colour schemes and partitions. 

bylu designs minimal, high-tech research center for textile machinery company in china
exhibition area



also, the exhibition area features low cabinets for showcasing samples, along with a framed glass area with an incorporated touchscreen. this touchscreen will be used for storytelling, illustrating the function and the process behind each item. a special feature room offers the chance to discover new products and textiles, giving visitors a view of the latest projects. the room is separated by a white metal mesh partition providing a private and cosy feeling. a long wooden table in the middle makes for an excellent focal point and area for discussing samples and prototypes. the lounge area is the final destination, a comfortable, inviting place to relax and discuss projects. it contains a sofa with a raised wooden floor and mesh partition, giving it a warm and intimate feel. a ribbon window connects it to santoni’s material library. high tech sample library santoni’s material library is the finishing touch; an impressive automated storage room that can store over 2000 samples. a mechanical arm in the centre of the library will deliver any requested sample to the lounge area. 

bylu designs minimal, high-tech research center for textile machinery company in china
exhibition area

santoni mec 5
exhibition area

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exhibition area

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exhibition area

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dicussion room

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sample library

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axonometric functions

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project info:


name: santoni MEC
architecture office: bylu design
design team: luigi arcadu, stefano bai, sara ciribifera, cheney cao, yi zhang
gross built area: 400 sqm
project location: shanghai, china design



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edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom