Chris Shao Studio LLC

This wunderkind tells stories through the use of specially commissioned art and custom furnishings, as well as intriguing juxtapositions that feel like private conversations on which you want to eavesdrop.

All photos by Guan Li

Rooms with rich historical resonance set a high bar for their present-day occupants. This Shanghai townhouse, landmarked by the Chinese city’s department for the preservation of cultural heritage, must have had a very vibrant past. And it’s doing pretty well today, too, thanks to the imaginative interventions of New York designer Chris Shao, who maintained the antique structure, then layered on some cutting-edge contemporary design. Vladimir Kagan’s Omnibus sofa and a branching floor lamp by Brecht Wright Gander have similar pond-green hues, while, overhead, Ludovic Clément d’Armont’s Moon Pendant Ensemble of lights, from Galerie Philia, serves as jewelry for the room. A handcrafted table and chairs by Arno Declercq puts the final, functional touch to the palatial space’s decor. Says Shao, “The room really speaks one language, despite all the inputs from different cultures and countries.” 

“We incorporated pieces by contemporary Chinese artists, like this chair by the young Shanghai-based designer Bryce Cai, alongside examples of American collectible design, such as this screen by L.A. legend Robert Kuo.”

Design philosophy?

“I am not only an interior designer but also a storyteller. I tell stories through my design.”

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