Yu Ting Explains His Inspiration For Renovating an Artist’s Residence in Shanghai
Drawing is a very efficient way to explain design ideas to a client. This particular sketch depicts the living room of Plain House, the Shanghai residence of artist Li Bin. The project entailed renovating an existing painting studio—one of two on the property—that I’d designed in 2009. (Li is converting the other, by Arata Isozaki & Associates, into a museum.)
He wanted to reconfigure the interior to accommodate both working and living, a process that took three years and also involved exterior modifications, such as imprinting the facade with a leaf motif and adding windows, some salvaged from old buildings. A centerpiece of the redesign is the double-height living room, painted Li’s trademark crimson—a departure from the otherwise neutral backdrop of gray walls and black tile flooring. A cuboid skylight punctuates one corner of the ceiling, allowing sunshine to cascade into the room like a waterfall. The radiance of the walls changes depending on the weather and time of day, from light red to purple.
The drawing, executed with a Muji watercolor-brush marker, captures the painterly interplay of color and light that gives the space an ineffable atmosphere —a sacred quality. It epitomizes the duality that characterizes the project, and my work in general.