Linehouse Tucks a Hip Office into a Shanghai Laneway

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For the Shanghai office of Herschel Supply Co, Canada’s hipster backpack brand, local studio Linehouse delivers a flexible space that references its evolving residential neighbourhood with layered materials and spaces.

One of the era’s great Canadian success stories, hipster accessories brand Herschel Supply Co. has become a global phenomenon in just six short years. Their colourful canvas backpacks and duffels can be found on the shoulders of cool kids (and adults) worldwide, including in China, where the company has just opened an office.

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Herschel chose local firm Linehouse to conceptualize the new space, which occupies a compact 134-square-metre footprint along a Shanghai laneway in a residential part of the city.

Currently a neighbourhood in flux, many of the older homes in the area have recently been demolished to make way for new development. As these buildings are stripped away, layers of materials are brought out into the open and what once was private is revealed to the public.

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These themes of deconstruction and relationship between public and private have been carried from the street into the Herschel outpost, driving the design.The office is entered from the street via a massive, raw steel door that a first glance, looks more like an art piece than an entrance. Framed on two sides in a collage of recycled brick, a half-house-shaped weathered panel hides a large pivot door, which swings around to open an interior reception lounge up to the sidewalk.

A series of enclosed areas have been added to the open concept space with the insertion of a pitched roof structure that extends from the outline of the doorway, housing the lounge as well as a meeting room and a kitchen. Framed in black metal, the volume’s walls and roof are in alternating sections of glass – that help maintain transparency and let natural light into these rooms – and corrugated metal.

The metal panels are perforated on the ceilings, to let the light in, and function as track doors on the walls, allowing each room to be individually closed off for private meetings, or to isolate noise and keep the parallel workspace quiet.

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