Art Deco was in many ways the world’s first truly global art movement. Though synonymous with Parisian boulevards and New York-ian skyscrapers, it flourished in Rio, Mumbai, and perhaps most notably, Shanghai, where it mingled with local aesthetics and endures to this day in the city’s architectural landscape.

The much romanticized Shanghai of the 1930s — a crucible of jazz clubs, re-imagined Chinese fashion, and glamorous hotels — is the focus of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) latest China pop-up store. Visitors to “The Grand Time Hotel” wander through a carefully curated series of spaces from the world’s foremost museum of design including a fitting room of period-style couture and dressing tables, a cocktail bar with drinks to match, and an art gallery.

Six experience spaces — Reception, Lobby, Boudoir, Bar, Art Shop, and Gallery — were furnished with items inspired by the V&A’s vast Art Deco collection. Image: V&A

Open until Jan 30 inside the mezzanine of Shimao International Plaza, a downtown shopping center that has hosted numerous Western museum pop-up shops in recent years, visitors can purchase products incorporating intellectual property (IP) from the museum’s Art Deco collection including silk scarves, iPad cases, and wallpapers (the products are also available on its Tmall store).

The immersive hotel experience has been launched alongside the museum’s longtime partner in China, Alfilo Brands, a Shanghai-based master licensee and retailer which also aids the British Museum, London’s National Gallery, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in reaching Chinese audiences.

The pop-up space boasted Art Deco patterns and posters that immersed visitors in art and design history. Image: V&A

Widely considered a leading collector of Art Deco couture, furniture, and posters, the V&A’s pop-up connects back to the museum’s third best-attended exhibition in its history, Art Deco 1910-1939. “The V&A is regarded as a leading authority on the Art Deco Movement,” said Lauren Sizeland, the museum’s Head of Licensing and Business Development. “One of the founding missions of the V&A was to make art available to all and this pop-up store will help bring our collections to a new audience.”

The pop-up follows on from last year’s mini-experience exhibition inside Shanghai’s K11 art mall — a venture that saw product collaborations with Chinese fashion labels 4iNLOOK and BASTO, and international brands Twinings Tea and Lomography — as well as the Design Society museum it co-launched in 2017 in Shenzhen with China Merchants Shekou Holdings.

Limited edition products were available for purchase at the Art Shop and on Tmall. Image: V&A.

Although operations at the V&A’s home base in London continue to be severely disrupted, the museum remains committed to expanding its brand and revenue potential in China. With an industry-wide reputation for turning IPs into unique, desirable products, expect the museum to continue its push into China over the coming months and years.


Jing Culture & Commerce