A New Face In Town, Everyday Price Tag
“We want people to feel at home, pick up things and sit on sofas,” was the opening statement from Face’s marketing manager Darleen Cubas as we were handed two glasses of chilled South African whites. It was the launch weekend for this new home furnishing design brand and a selection of invited locals and expats gathered in the main orange-coloured living room for complimentary canapés and beverages.
Coming under its umbrella company, T6 Space (a leasing and furniture-selling company), Face is its newest project which allows punters to see and buy unique, often one-of-a-kind, designs with one big difference – you get to experience it all in a real live-in space. Having taken a mere three weeks to completely gut an already existing apartment in the former French Concession and furnish it in just two days before the launch, the end result was particularly impressive.Outside coming in, there was no gory commercial style entrance. And the fact that Face was hidden away in a residential area made it somewhat exclusive but low key enough that it felt like you dropping by a friend’s place. Once inside, a short climb up the stairs to the third floor and you could immediately see the beginning difference in décor.
The apartment was actually split over four levels. On the first sub-level was a kitchen/dining room painted in a brilliant yellow with contrasting dark wooden table and chairs. Then, moving to the main section (and actual third floor) was Face’s office, the main living room, the master bedroom and a second living room. With a view of all four rooms from the small hallway, each location made a bold statement in its colour theme. The largest was the main living room and within its summery orange walls was where people were taking in various ornaments, picture frames and seating.
Apart from pulling up the floor boards, pretty much everything on display was for sale and to our great surprise it was all very affordable considering its high-end look and quality finishes. Face’s chief designer, Hiro Namba, was on hand to answer questions and give visitors an insight into some of the ideas behind the displayed products. Japanese by origin, he majored in Art History and afterwards his travels have taken him across Asia, North America and Europe to now settling in Shanghai.I was particularly grabbed by some of his mosaic-inspired cushion designs which he said he drew from colour concepts and patterns he studied as an Art History student. And to think that each cushion cost RMB 190 (£19), that to me was a real steal taking into account that only a select few buyers would have the same design. Darleen explained to us that everything we saw was a one-time product sale only but things could be made to order. This, in turn, gave purchases some individuality avoiding, say, the mass-line approach of other leading furniture giants.
And it wasn’t just about great-looking pieces and reasonable costs. Ethical and environmental boundaries were considered in the sourcing of materials and also teaming up with other eco-friendly companies like Eco Bibi and Finch to provide some of the accompanying in-house accessories. Interestingly, one of Eco Bibi’s prime items was a range of new period pads for women that were made from cotton and rayon from Bamboo. They are reusable, requiring a wash after use, and are said to be environmental friendly and better for women’s health as it avoided some of the chemicals and man-made materials used in conventional sanitary towels.By this time we were already half way through our glasses of wine and full submerged in the vibrant aqua green environs of the master bedroom. Faux-fur was draped as a cover for the mattress on a four-poster bed with a mannequin perched on topped sporting a Finch-designed pyjama. There was a mini balcony from the main bedroom where I spotted Face’s Co-Founder Joe Samaga and to my embarrassment, we both had the same Gap-bought floral print shirt! Total cringe moment. Darleen introduced us and thankfully we were both able to have a laugh about our matching looks.
Spying the secondary living room, which Darleen called more of a “man’s room” – there was more faux-fur throws and a calming green painted on the walls. Up the wooden stairs past a mini-terrace area (which will eventually have a Moroccan theme to it), we were in the loft were there were two additional rooms. A studio/reading room with a very comfortable purple-lined stretch arm chair in the middle. And next door was the kid’s room dressed in softer blues and yellows, again accompanied by child/baby items from the Eco Bibi range.Face – in my view – has positioned itself well taking into account its value as a brand that produces products for those wanting something more than a carbon copy of an IKEA showroom. But I’m not going to front. A lot of times the disappointment of finding a great piece of home furnishing to then be hit by a price that amounts to more than a month’s salary – has, at times, made me wary of stylish furniture companies. Here, the experience was totally different. Yes, some items did go into the few thousand plus bracket but many were surprisingly on par with what you’d call an everyday price tag.
Purchasing-aside, the time spent amongst the well-thought colours and touches (currently known as the ‘Bright & Bold’ collection) made it inspiring to experience. All Face staff were attentive and personal in their approach (in a non-intrusive way) and the great thing is if you come back the following month – there are bound to be new pieces on show as the aim is to collaborate with more Shanghai-based designers (both Chinese and international). If you haven’t added Face to your address book, what are you waiting for? It’s time to go put a face to the name.
Visit: Face, 3F, West Building, 77 Tai’an Lu, near Xinguo Lu, Shanghai, 200052
Opening Times: 11am – 6pm
Tel: 021 6229 9633
Metro: Jiatong University (line 10)