MDO tucks a secret garden at the back of 'absolute flower shop' in shanghai

MDO tucks a secret garden at the back of 'absolute flower shop' in shanghai

MDO has designed a stylish flower shop in shanghai that feels more like an art gallery than a retail space. ‘absolute flower shop’ is located on the first floor of an old house and is comprised of a series of cellular spaces that open up to a secret garden at the rear. MDO conceived the design as a linear journey of reveal, where each space creates a unique engagement with the flower arrangements and the viewer.

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you can find the flower shop in shanghai’s anfu lu neighborhood, which is known for its trendy cafés, retail stores and residential life. MDO‘s refurbishment of the old house comprises a series of insertions into the existing building fabric. the floor plan is split into three elements: street gallery, artificial landscape, and secret garden.

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one first encounters the shop from the street through the gallery, viewed through a small shop window. this window dates back from a time where the local community could buy day to day goods through the small window directly off the street. this practice no longer occurs, but MDO wanted to reference it by creating a gallery viewed solely from the street, which will present an evolving series of installations made using seasonal flowers. each window becomes a framed painting of another world, a scene connected to the seasons. the rear of the space is a one-way mirror, hiding the spaces within, and allowing the viewer to see themselves in the reflection with the flower installation.

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entering from the street the viewer passes beside the gallery where the light comes solely from a digital screen showing the previous flower creations. this digital moment serves as a palette cleanser before experiencing the real plants within.

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the main heart of the shop was conceived as an artificial landscape, a neutral terrain to contrast with the flower installations. a subdued palette of bush-hammered stone and brushed stainless steel boxes rise up through the space providing different height plinths for flower display.

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a private studio connects to the main gallery where the owner has space to work on large scale installations. the studio is connected to the garden through a large existing wrought iron window, which allows guests a glimpse of the new creations as they pass outside.

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the main studio opens out onto the 1,076 ft2 (100 m2) secret garden. the garden is a place of relaxation, where the owner can enjoy tea with her friends. there was an existing tree that MDO wanted to use as a shelter, so the design uses an l-shaped bench that wraps the tree, creating a quiet oasis in the heart of the city. the seating area is designed as series of planes, where the verticality of the tree is balanced by a water feature and low-level planting area.

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MDO designed with sound and memory. the crunch underfoot on the gravel path reminds the designer of long lazy summers spent at his grandmother’s country house in the UK. while the gentle trickle of water evokes a feeling of peace and tranquility.

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MDO tucks a secret garden at the back of 'absolute flower shop' in shanghai

MDO tucks a secret garden at the back of 'absolute flower shop' in shanghai

MDO tucks a secret garden at the back of 'absolute flower shop' in shanghai


MDO tucks a secret garden at the back of 'absolute flower shop' in shanghai



project info:


project name: absolute flower shop
location: no. 193, anfu road, xuhui district, shanghai, china
design firm: more design office (MDO)
design directors: jaycee chui, justin bridgland
designers: da gao, lorenzo lanzani, peng zhao, di chang
area: 2,153 ft2 (200 m2)
completion date: october 1st, 2020
photography: dirk weiblen, yichen ding


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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