Headquartered in cosmopolitan Shanghai, Stellar Works produces pared-down designs that hark back to its Asian roots. Founder Yuichiro Hori shares more about the furniture brand’s forward-looking approach
Yuichiro Hori of Stellar Works and Ed Ng of AB Concept offer illuminating insights into the world of furniture and interior design
Shanghai may not be the first city to come to mind when it comes to furniture production, but Yuichiro Hori hopes to change that with his Shanghai-based brand Stellar Works. The founder recognises the potential of the city’s manufacturing prowess and its growing design scene: “We opened our factory in Shanghai in 2008, with the concept of utilising the technical know-how from France, while using Toyota production systems from Japan.” He adds: “The city is also very international, with a fast-growing economy and a multicultural history that reflects the essence of Stellar Works.” Beyond its hospitality projects around the world—which include Baccarat Hotel in New York, Capella Shanghai, Rosewood Beijing and Park Hyatt Sydney— Stellar Works is represented by dealers in 30 countries. In Singapore, the brand is carried by P5 Studio. Under the creative direction of Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Shanghai-based practice Neri & Hu, the P5 Studio showroom has been transformed with touches of Asian influence to match Stellar Works’ timeless approach to design. As we explore the showroom together with Hori, he discusses the development of the furniture brand and its plans for global expansion.
Could you describe the design philosophy of Stellar Works?
Stellar Works combines handcrafted, industrial-inspired details with timeless design and an Asian sensibility. We’re not chasing trends—we feel that design should be made to last. We are based in Shanghai and we’re proud to say that our furniture are made in Shanghai. When European designers see the Asian influence in our designs, they’re intrigued by it. We see this as our strength, and we try to share the story behind each of our products. For example, our Ming chair has a contemporary look with a structure that’s also subtly inspired by the Ming dynasty. We’re not reproducing designs of the past; we’re refining them such that our designs reference the past while looking forward into the future.
What are the qualities that you look for, when searching for a showroom location?
It’s important to have the right location to show the brand’s DNA. It doesn’t need to be a mainstream, high street location; I don’t want to create a typical retail shop. I like the location at P5 Studio, which has a studio-like concept and is a multi-purpose venue that’s easily accessible to designers working in the area. We’re opening a new two-storey, street-facing showroom in London later this year, and we have started designing our flagship store for New York. We’re also re-designing and expanding our factory in Shanghai.
“WE ARE BASED IN SHANGHAI AND WE’RE PROUD TO SAY THAT OUR FURNITURE ARE MADE IN SHANGHAI”
What shaped your decision to locate the Stellar Works headquarters in Shanghai?
We were originally looking for a production platform, which didn’t necessarily need to be in Shanghai. Yet during my search for factory locations, I was very impressed by the skills of the young workers in city; they grew up in villages known for their craftsmanship and woodwork. The growth potential of design in Shanghai is also correlated to the strong economy. Take for example, the dozens of new luxury hotels opened in the last year in Shanghai; this creates plenty of opportunities for the local design scene.
Tell us more about your upcoming collections.
We have new designs by Neri & Hu as well as the first sofa by Danish design studio Space Copenhagen. We hope to work with a new designer from Asia soon for a new furniture collection as well. We also have a new collection featuring furniture pieces by Danish architect Vilhelm Wohlert, who designed the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen and the furniture in the museum. We are not just reproducing the chair, lounge chair and stool designed by Wohlert; we are also using new materials for these pieces and finding ways to make these modern.