June 28, 2021

Nax Architects Transforms a Steamed-Dumpling Shop Into a Tiny Pop-up in Shanghai

The health benefits of drinking tea have been known for centuries. But what about applying it to the skin? Cosmetea, a South Korean
cosmetics brand, believes that many of the same benefits can be gained from topical creams infused with the fragrant leaves. To spread the word about their skin-care products, Cosmetea tapped Nax Architects to transform a steamed-dumpling shop into a tiny pop-up on a corner of Shanghai’s trendy Yuyuan Road.

To make the most of the single-story brick structure’s 100-square-foot interior, Nax Architects lead designer Lina Chan punched a 5 1/2-foot-diameter circular storefront in the end wall. She then inserted a series of mirror-polished stainless-steel portals down the length of the shop. Suggesting moon gates ringed with LED strips, they form a ribbed tunnel that’s like a wormhole in space beckoning passersby to step inside. “We found inspiration for our theme from Cosmetea’s logo, which resembles a pendulum,” Chan says. “It signifies the use of cosmetics to control aging.” Open shelves and wall cabinets between the shiny ribs allow customers to browse
products based on green, chamomile, mint, and other teas. 

More items are displayed beneath the glass floor, which increases the dimension-bending effect. It all serves Cosmetea’s brand philos­ophy: With the right cosmetics, you can turn back time.

Photography by Raitt Liu.

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