Tucked away deep within the hutongs of Beijing's Dongcheng district, the new Wuhao Curated Shop is Beijing's first proper concept shop. Housed in a sublime siheyuan, or courtyard home, that belonged to the Last Empress Wanrong, the space is orchestrated seasonally with some of China's most cutting-edge fashion, design and art and a smattering of international indie brands. A onetime upstart with a roster of only 15 designers, Wuhao now boasts nearly 100 Chinese and international brands.
Owner Isabelle Pascal uses as inspiration the traditional Chinese theory of the 'five elements': wood, earth, water, metal and fire. Her exhibitions take on the characteristics of various elements, depending on the season, the weather and the energy she gets from the pieces she works with. Wuhao's current Winter-Water exhibition ambitiously aims to incorporate the wide range of stock in one space or 'house'.
Water, assumed to have a transformative power, and has been subtly woven into all the exhibits - including a mirror installation in the north pavilion that creates a water effect and enables you to see the space from different perspectives. Positioned on the 'water' is the 'Loop' chair by Taiwanese artist Pili Wu, from his recent partnership with Hong Kong gallery ilivetomorrow. Wu, inspired by the typical plastic chair used in most restaurants, made the Loop using traditional Ming techniques and painted it in colours associated with winter.
Other highlights include the first collection from MPMP, a local fashion label by expat designers Aurélien Lecour and Katrin Reinfurt. They printed their silk dresses, trousers and light-reflecting macs with images of rough skies and stormy seas. They fit in nicely with the exhibit's water focus, as do the striking bone and hair installations by Wen Fang; Samuel Gassmann's one-off cufflinks and the paper chairs by Hangzhou-based Innovo Design.
Wuhao has become such a talking point of late that Pascal plans to expand within China (Chengdu and Hangzhou are on her radar) and then, potentially, Milan, Paris and New York. But while moving forward is key, for now she'll be focusing on her current artistic partnerships. The spring exhibit, set to launch in May, is still in the planning stages but promises to offer more carefully edited lines and its now-celebrated limited-edition ranges.
Wuhao Curated Shop's Winter-Water exhibit runs until April.