In­ter­views

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

Singapore Tatler Homes - - JUN/JUL 2018 -

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.

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