The never-ending urban highways, the pale and empty grandeur of Tian'anmen Square, the heavy traffic and the mantle of dust which is just occasionally swept away by the bitter winds from Mongolia—these don't necessarily make China's capital a place you fall in love with at first sight.
On the contrary, Beijing is a city that takes time to explore, and it's just when you get lost in the maze of old alleys or head out on a trip to one of the city's art districts that you can truly discover its charm. Along with its vibrant street culture and its historical heritage, China's bustling development has turned the city into an ideal playground for local and expat creatives with both mainstream and alternative ideas. Here are three hidden gems worth uncovering.
Wuhao Curated Shop
Inspired by her fascination for the five elements of Chinese philosophy, Isabelle Pascal Wuhao Curated Shop, a breathtakingly beautiful space nestled in an old courtyard between Houhai Lake and Lama Temple. Behind the red doors of Mao'er Hutong, the holistic project mixes design, fashion, products, visions and insights. The unique space is a true temple of fine Chinese design, a place where contemporary style blends seamlessly with the ambience of old China.
Temporarily located in Yangmeizhu Xiejie, Ubi Gallery is one of the first places in China to showcase high-end, contemporary jewelry design. Founded by Machtelt Schelling, a Dutch designer and art lover based in Beijing, Ubi aims to be a platform showcasing top Asian and European talent, and all pieces are carefully selected from high-quality studios and independent designers from China, Taiwan and Korea, as well as Germany and the Netherlands.
Spoonful of Sugar
Spoonful of Sugar is a new experiment by creative design mastermind Lin Lin and famed chef Max Levy. Presented at Beijing Design Week last October, the concept has now found its home in a cafe and retail space in 798 Art District. Combining JellymonJellymon's sleek design with Okra Works' slow food, Spoonful of Sugar exudes a playful spirit. One of our favorite specialities is the Notorious F.I.G. sandwich with preserved green fig and their organic seaweed MSG.
Photos courtesy of Ubigallery, Wuhao, Spoonful of Sugar