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Exterior view of former textile warehouse in Beijing

When the founders of fledgling furniture brand Ziinlife visited the offices of fellow Shanghai-based architecture firm Atelier tao+c, they immediately liked what they saw. The minimalist, industrial-leaning space made from affordable materials perfectly reflected the creative design brand’s own mantra of “solving problems through design” — namely, by offering China’s more cash-conscious but style-forward consumers trendy furnishings. This chance meeting three years ago is how Ziinlife’s latest showroom and café, located in a repurposed Mao-era textile warehouse in the east of Beijing, came to be.

Interior view of Ziinlife showroom

Lead architect Chunyan Cai’s “house within a house” concept for the space arose from a necessity to augment its slight 186 square metres into something more substantial — without impacting versatility. “By rotating two intersected square frames 45 degrees, a diagonal relation is created between them and the existing walls,” Cai explains. This oblique tension between the clean, wooden interior cannily expands the space’s illusory depth.

Interior view of Ziinlife showroom

 Meanwhile, a lone steel deck cleaves the second floor, tidily doubling the accessible floor space. You reach this area via a single U-shaped staircase partly obscured by laminate wood panelling on the building’s front side, which immaculately juts into the brick facade. The affected wall is replaced by a triangular window, forging a conversation between the delicate internal structure and its more pragmatic shell while also letting in light and tempting passersby.

Interior view of Ziinlife showroom

 Despite being predominantly made from exposed industrial materials — a skeleton of auburn steel I-beams and columns hoist the timber and transparent polycarbonate sheet casing, all buoyed by two sparing slabs of grey marble — the internal structure retains a playful nimbleness. The effect is enhanced by clever geometric touches and deft use of negative space, as seen in cut-outs to the intricate easel-like contours of the staircase, a swooping semicircular inlay above the first-floor showroom and pin-neat gatefold windows opening out from the second-floor pergolas.

Interior view of Ziinlife showroom

“We tried to let the layers demonstrate that a structure can be as beautiful as its finishing material,” Cai says. The result is a clean, assured space that gives its occupants room to breathe while also allowing Ziinlife’s designs to speak to the customer unburdened by noisy detail.

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Exterior view of former textile warehouse in Beijing
A Beijing Textile Warehouse Turned Furniture Showroom

Geometric frames twist and turn inside a former textile warehouse.

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