© Yebin Design Studio

More and more, a trip to Shanghai isn’t complete without an additional field outing to neighbouring Hangzhou. Only a two-and-a-half-hour drive southwest of the megalopolis, it’s a leafy enclave – well, there’s an urban population of around 8 million, but that’s considered minor from a Chinese perspective – which has blossomed into its own modern lifestyle haven with plentiful of venues to vouch for. A recent addition to the city’s retail landscape is CHOCLAB, a hybrid retail concept which also embraces hospitality and art, all presented in a sleek setting created by local practice Yebin Interior Design. The store is set up by a collective of young local musicians as an exclusive domain for a likeminded demographic of in-the-know consumers.

The boutique is situated in Gongshu, a historic part of the city, and is housed in a purpose-built structure. The façade is entirely covered in shiny aluminium panels, featuring only one small window and a row of brass-framed peep holes on street level to peek inside. Mind you, access to the CHOCLAB store can only be gained after applying on a special online platform, and when that’s arranged you’ll punch in the given code at the door. The ground floor is set up as a blank canvas, largely defined by large white planes and a geometric interplay of white metal rods that collectively outline seemingly inserted structures. It’s here where part of CHOCLAB‘s collection is presented, and more can be explored upstairs.

A staircase in white and gold connects all floors and features intricately designed displays in between. The second floor is very much a treasure trove, an in an compatible way, the aesthetic complies, featuring similar geometries, but all captured in a demure palette of soft pink and black. Furnishings come in a range of different shapes and materials, all intricately designed, resulting a richly layered setting that effortlessly evokes a wow effect. The most striking element undisputedly is a large metallic statue of a squatted human with spread arms. One floor further up, additional apparel items can be found, but also the store’s very own restaurant.

The setting here continues with a similar colour palette, using a mix of clearly defined black iron, red copper, and light toned leather. The two sections are distinctly divided, yet still have interaction and connection. The setting as a whole is also richly layered, projecting a constant flux of shapes, and thus visual discovery, and which is playfully interrupted by the transparency on the lower part of the wall. The new CHOCLAB boutique stocks men’s and women’s collections by some of today’s top fashion brands, including Maison Margiela, Alexander Wang, Juun J, Marni and Undercover. Location: CHOCLAB, 958 Shangtang Lu (Gongshu).

© Yebin Design Studio