Aurora Design Conjures Kunming, China Headquarters as Enchanted

Surrounded by ancient temples and limestone landscapes, Kunming, a city in southwest China, is known as “Spring City” thanks to its balmy climate and botanical wonders: pear and apricot trees and cherry blossoms, seas of violet Jacaranda flowers abound. When high-end interiors firm Aurora Design sought to revamp their own headquarters, they looked to these enchanting environs for inspiration.

Last fall, Aurora Design founder Yang Xuewan sought to create a space that would encourage creativity and innovation. “We wanted to break from the rigid image of a traditional office,” recalls Yang. “The natural beauty of Kunming’s landscape influenced the choice of materials such as wood and metal, which can evoke a sense of nature and harmony with the surroundings.”

Aurora’s philosophy of “creating fantasy and beauty,” coupled with this dreamy landscape, made for a surrealism-tinged environment. Yang modeled the space after “Alice in Wonderland,” starting with the long, entryway corridor clad in microcement, leading employees down the rabbit hole to a Zen and polychrome haven.

Green manga-style paintings, by Yang and her colleague Liu Ying, evoke Kunming’s lush greenery, and add a youthful touch to sparse walls. Organic forms and mid-century furnishings throughout the 2,600-square-foot space are balanced by whimsical pieces: chairs shaped like forks, flower-power throw pillows, lavender-hued vinyl upholstered lounges. Recessed wall nooks house art books and magazines featuring the work of architectural visionaries like Virgil Abloh. In keeping with Yang’s floral-infused vision, desks are topped with fresh-cut flowers in irregularly shaped blown-glass vases. Linear LED lighting in individual offices draws sightlines skywards and evoke a cozy vibe. “It’s a tranquil experience,” Yang notes.

The thoughtful layout, comprised of semi-private nooks, personal desks, and larger workspaces for company-wide confabs, offers plentiful options for collaboration and concentration framed by aesthetic opposition and harmony. Accents are charming, bordering on camp, from googly-eyed embellishments upon furnishings and squiggle lamps in Memphis colors, while leather sofas, louvred windows, solid oak casework, and stone cladding grounds the space. Yang’s curation of modern and contemporary pieces coupled with kawaii ephemera is a poetic dialogue cultivating ingenuity. “Whether leaning on the corner of a table or lying on the floor, you are free to come up with new ideas and let your mind explore fresh thoughts,” Yang affirms. Welcome to wonderland!

Walk Through Aurora Design’s New Headquarters in Kunming, China

a fork-shaped chair greets employees at the main entrance to Aurora Design's headquarters
At Aurora’s Kunming headquarters, a long hallway leads to the main office, and a fork-shaped chair greets employees.
googly eyes on a refrigerator in the kitchenette of Aurora Design's office headquarters
The kitchen features a monochromatic tiled backsplash, with the brand’s trademarked googly eyes on the refrigerator.
a close up of an eclectic coffee table in Aurora Design headquarters
Eclectic yet practical tablescapes, where books, flowers, and novelty pieces showcase Aurora Design’s spirit of balance and whimsy, embody brand storytelling.
a Memphis-inspired palette in the living area of a design office
The sitting area’s leather sofa, Noguchi table, and organic wall-cladding is juxtaposed by a Memphis-inspired palette of geometric motifs, lavender Fatboy lounge chair, and matching plush toy.
a wood-clad, semi-open office space
A white Philippe Panton Flowerpot lamp adds warmth to a wood-clad, semi-open office space.

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