All hail the republic

By Tracy Lee-Elrick
Updated: 2006-11-16 10:31

Despite the proliferation of furniture malls and antique warehouses in Shanghai, buying home decorations can be a trying experience, involving long car rides across town only to find showrooms stocked with an over-abundance of gilt-and-crystal tackiness. If that doesn't ring your bell, of course there's always cheap, ever-reliable Ikea.

But with the recent opening of Design Republic the 'money is no object' crowd can indulge their taste for world-class design and quality in a carefully-curated setting. Housed in the same building as M on the Bund, Design Republic was founded by architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, both of whom worked with Michael Graves on the Three on the Bund restoration just across the street. The gallery showroom, with its spacious concrete, oak, steel and glass design, features iconic chairs by design greats such as Arne Jacobsen, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray, Antonio Gaudi and Tom Dixon, all of which is accompanied (museum-style) with well-worded explanations outlining their pedigrees.

Items on offer include something to meet the house-proud shopper's every need: crockery, cutlery and glassware by Riedel, Stelton and Menu; gorgeous lamps such as Panton's confection of mother-of-pearl discs and Moooi's gothic-chic chandelier, design books, and even an in-house line of cashmere loungewear. Immaculately clad in black Mao suits, staff is attentive without being intrusive or snotty; that said they still need more training. During our visit, no one offered us "a refreshing cooler of iced infusion" as DR's inaugural newsletter promises every customer. And it took three people to fumble their way through the process of providing our change, wrapping our purchases and placing a folded fapiao into a sleek black envelope. All this for our humble purchase of four greeting cards (RMB 15 each)-imagine what chaos would have ensued if we were buying that Gaudi 'Battlo' two-seater costing a cool quarter of a million.

Design Republic
Location: 5 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
Tel: 021-63293339
Open time: 10am-10pm


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