Mansion Liu by Bob Chen

Step into the world of Mansion Liu, a home that narrates its own story. Located in Hangzhou, China, this dwelling is a reflection of the owner’s personality, curated by the discerning eye of acclaimed designer Bob Chen.

This house, a remarkable product of mid-century modern design, functions not only as a social hub but also as a retreat for introspection. Each corner, each line, and every artifact that adorns this home is a testament to the owner’s memories, embodying the true spirit of a personal sanctuary. Every piece in Mansion Liu has a story to tell, making it more than just a house, but rather a living memoir of life experiences.

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About Mansion Liu

Reflecting Personal Histories: The Architecture of Home

“The choices we make in life speak volumes about who we are.” A home, stripped of its walls, often showcases items that encapsulate the owner’s memories. Visiting someone’s home is akin to a journey through their past and a deep dive into their emotions. Simplifying a space allows each object to articulate its own narrative, a testament to our belief that the homeowner is the best stylist of their space. Beyond serving as a hub for social interactions, a modern home should also offer a sanctuary for reflection, retreat, and introspection. These two disparate needs intertwine in the spatial presentation of “House Liu.” In this home, the owner, Liu, a professional advertiser, unfolds the story of his house’s transformation.

Diving into Design: A Collaborative Journey

Submerging oneself in design can feel like an invigorating vacation. Bob, a talented designer and an old friend, is no exception. Despite a seemingly nonchalant attitude, his passion for design is palpable, resembling a child’s joy during a holiday. Bob’s upbringing as the son of a carpenter has honed his sensitivity to lines and corners, making him the ideal choice for designing my home. Given his keen eye for detail, he often dedicates more thought to a design than even the homeowner. His pricing was even generous enough to allow me to push the deadline!

Nurturing a Guilty Pleasure: The Obsession with Collecting

Over the last decade, I’ve nurtured a fascination with collecting unique articles, a hobby that has allowed me to understand my preferences and uncover hidden values. This passion eventually led me to contemplate purchasing a larger house to store my treasures. However, realizing that a perfect home isn’t simply a haphazard collage of fragments, I sought Bob’s assistance to help me make sense of the chaos.

Crafting Spaces: The Role of Scale and Details

Bob’s impressive accomplishments in graphic design lend depth and meaning to his spatial designs. His focus on scale, the fluency and accessibility of the whole space, and the importance of well-circulated spaces underpin his design approach. This instinctive understanding of space allowed us to finalize the design plan for our home within just 15 minutes.

Building a Solid Foundation: The Magic Behind the Scenes

On-site construction was entrusted to Mr. Dai, a contractor with whom I’ve collaborated for over a decade. His emphasis on a firm foundation resonates with my understanding that good outcomes stem from stable structures. His construction team’s dedication and passion for space are unparalleled, making them the first choice for many renowned designers in Hangzhou.

Material Considerations: Balancing Budgets and Aesthetic Appeal

When it comes to materials and textures, Bob’s budget-conscious approach ensures that nothing is left to chance. His willingness to experiment with new materials, especially for trusting clients like myself, has yielded successful outcomes thus far. The flooring materials, supplied by our friend Guohua’s brand “Sense Things,” contribute to the overall aesthetic.

Creating Landscapes: The Art of Natural Design

The landscape design presented us with a challenge. We enlisted the help of Mr. Yu, a perfectionist designer, who meticulously hand-drew the plans on sulfate paper. His detailed approach, coupled with his patience during the design and selection process, ensured that each stone, piece of wood, flower, and blade of grass was carefully chosen, resulting in a satisfying final design.

Embracing Openness: The Path to Success

Bob’s open-minded approach to design has been instrumental in achieving our goals. Unlike many design companies that prefer to maintain a “closed loop design” for quality control, Bob believes that anything that adds value should be treated with sincerity and openness.

Custom-Made Comfort: Unique Furniture for a Unique Space

Due to the unique layout of my home, most of the furniture needed to be custom-made. This included a massive 5.6-meter (18.3 feet) log for the TV cabinet in the living room, procured during a half-month trip to Indonesia with my friend Yonghong, and a set of 19th-century bluestones from the Netherlands reshaped into coffee table tops. Bob redesigned and customized the table legs. Additionally, a 4.6-meter-long (15 feet) sofa was designed in tandem with the cabinet, taking into account storage for water, sockets, and tea-making equipment. Many other details were crafted with meticulous attention.

The Ultimate Design: A Reflection of Self

The best home design, in my view, is one that respects the homeowner’s individuality. It should honor their emotions, attitudes, and principles towards the world, as well as the potential that life presents, rather than blindly chasing trends. This understanding and respect for personal feelings is what shaped our house. After all, if there are pictures, there’s truth. However, the process of collaboration has proven that words and shared experiences can also vividly recount the journey of creating a home.

Photography by Wen Office

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- by Matt Watts