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FAB Cinema X Zhongshuge, Taiyuan, China

Geometric elements relied upon to create sleek, moody space.

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WITH RETAIL EMBARKING on a brave new post-pandemic world, X+Living (Shanghai) believes that the future includes thinking outside the box. They were offered such a chance when FAB Cinema collaborated with Zhongshuge bookstores and asked the design firm to create the one-of-a-kind space where movies and books meet.

“The project was inspired by the local landscape of Taiyuan, [China,] and the cultural and social features of FAB Cinema and Zhongshuge,” says Li Xiang, Founder and Lead Designer for X+Living. The project took four months to complete and was more than simply taking parts of each separate design and creating a new whole. For this space to work, the designers at X+Living focused on the different ways these two different experiences could live harmoniously through one concept.

Mirrored ceilings and black tile floors make for a feeling of infinity, triangular archways and seating reference the local mountainous landscape, and integrated lighting keeps the space feeling cozy, just as a bookstore should be. But the design is undoubtably sleek and moody, evoking an atmospheric cinema. It’s that convergence of design, experience and expectation that Xiang and her team perfected to bring the space together.

“It completely changed the traditional form of cinemas,” she says. “By integrating the ticket office and waiting functions into the bookstore, it not only improves sales, but at the same time brings an innovative experience for customers with this new ‘retail plus entertainment’ model.”

“The most challenging part [was] the integration of the two different commercial spaces,” she adds. “We came up with a design that is able to integrate the cultural aspects of both spaces organically, at the same time maximizing both spaces’ social features. We also paid great attention to the traffic flow between both spaces, like the corridor leading to the cinema. We created an up- and down-stream traffic flow so that movie viewers can be separated from book readers to prevent them from interfering with each other.”

But where the FAB Cinema x Zhongshuge Taiyuan collab is perhaps most successful is not in the separation of the two concepts, but in how the space is adaptable for either film lovers or avid readers. The lecture hall’s clever construction allows for author signings and book readings, but also includes a space for film discussions. After a screening, audiences can grab a drink in Zhongshuge’s café. The children’s area uses a projector, video recorder and film to bring together both mediums of storytelling.

It’s a truly unique format in a time of unique design, and Xiang believes that’s where retail is headed. “The future of businesses will be in a more diversified composite form,” Li Xiang says. “Designers must continually think about how to bring new ideas and provide better designs for innovative businesses.”

PHOTO GALLERY (23 IMAGES)

Photography: SHAO FENG, SHANGHAI

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