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GRNDCNTRL | A theater-themed nightclub conceived by Li Wenqiang is taking Shanghai by storm

"The city is a machine that produces loneliness.

We are all ordinary citizens on masks.

Tomorrow's story seems to have been written.

Perhaps 'I' myself is the author of it."

——Li Wenqiang

Designed by PIG DESIGN

Photographed by SFAP

"Xintiandi" is a cultural landmark in the heart of Shanghai, witnessing the fusion and collision of the city's culture and western trend. The nightclub "GRNDCNTRL" is sited in Xintiandi's south part "Nan Li". It was co-created by PIG DEIGN led by Li Wenqiang and other designers at home and abroad.

GRNDCNTRL is a nightclub with a new concept, which blends the functions of modern yet retro party space, trend-setting interactive socializing destination, and immersive, artistic music scene. It echoes the high-end, stylish outdoor environment and cultural brands around.

Storm "entrance"

Art does not examine known reality, but seeks the truth of ideals. The entrance reveals an avant-garde, experimental and immersive ambience, evoking vivid imaginations and taking people to a surreal world full of mysterious light and shadows.

The wall decorations adopt a balanced composition, featuring the style of stage setting. A sequence of symmetrical, curved lighting installations draw on the deep, long lane form of local antique Shikumen buildings, with lines and rhythms guiding experiential circulations and extending inward.

Interpretation on the value of "theater" culture

Entertainment is a mass art that invigorates us after work. But nihilistic "pan-entertainment" phenomenon dissolves its value and diversity, and causes the "fatuous entertainment" effect.

Distinct from most nightclubs in Shanghai that are dominated by the homogeneous "underground" style, GRNDCNTRL is positioned as a "Shanghai nightlife cultural center". With the metaphorical "theater" concept, the design lifts the hip-pop nightclub to a higher level.

The word "theater" comes from Greek. About 350 BC, the Greeks always built theaters on hillsides, so that audiences could sit on stone chairs overlooking circular performance areas.

The 9m-high main space continues balanced, harmonious design languages. The spatial narratives and functional layout are centered around the lift-style DJ stage, which provides an unexpected experience and a panoramic view to all details in the space.

Meaningful "dress-up" ceremony

Stone materials, mirror-like finishes, paints, stainless steel, and leather are combined together, generating a distinct visual contrast. The dominant black tone has various shades. The organic curves with simple yet abstract forms break horizontal and vertical compositions, and redefine classic aesthetics.

An exquisite cultural performance theater is turned into a socializing venue available to the masses through artistic design and commercial strategies, without losing value or the functions of exhibition and experience. The elaborate design, advanced sound system and lighting effects enable this nightclub to come out on top.

The desire of being an actor or actress resides in the subconscious of modern people. Every corner of GRNDCNTRL is filled with the chances of seeing or being seen. On such an occasion, people are willing to dress themselves up, instead of dressing in a casual way. Happiness should not be cheap.

Personalized, vivid spatial composition

The big hall features the hip-pop music style with a strong sense of artistry and technology, hence bringing an avant-garde, futuristic spatial experience. In contrast, the small hall is dominated by the house & techno music style, full of immersive lighting and shadows, which produces a film-like, retro atmosphere. Both mirrored spatial scenes take into account the needs of different consumer groups.

Strong hues, simple design and new materials create a visual feast that is out of perspective. The integration of "theater" concept makes the visual game more complex. The bar counter is set back to give way to the "stage", with a view to highlighting people and music. The washrooms show retro aesthetics that are distinct from the trend, serving as the "back stage" for people to have a rest.

The nightclub acts as a cultural carrier as ancient theaters, accommodating spirits and emotions and shaping people's characters. Based on the background of the times and the city, GRNDCNTRL creates a black-toned, dramatic "improvisational scene" to take modern people to an enjoyable, thrilling journey.

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