A Soulful Home in China Highlights the Owner’s Vintage Furniture Collection

For his longtime friend, designer Bob Chen creates a tranquil residence wherein every piece tells a story.

By his own estimate, advertising executive Guang Liu’s passion for collecting vintage furniture has only grown over the last decade. "About 10 years ago, my obsession with used articles began, and I started to buy a lot of them, and gradually developed my ‘guilty pleasure,’" Guang. "My office and my friends’ warehouses are filled with weird things that I have collected." 

More recently, Guang asked his friend, designer Bob Chen of Bob Chen Design Office, to help him outfit a home that was up to the task of storing and displaying his treasures. "Bob and I have known each other for about 15 years, and have been working our way through our own careers in Hangzhou together," he says. "We are good friends, and at the same time we learn from each other." 

Chen led a talented team of designers and makers to create a cohesive home for Guang and his collections, one that combines and contrasts the homeowner’s favorite finds with bespoke and modern pieces.   

In the living room, a 15-foot custom sofa with an integrated tea station sits across from a console table built from a log that was over 18 feet long.

A vintage Pierre Jeanneret chair found by Guang sits beside a coffee table designed by Bob Chen. In the background, the tea station integrated with the couch has an outlet for an electric kettle and storage for supplies. 

Getting the mix right started in the living room. There, a 15-foot custom sofa anchors one wall, with one end incorporating a discreet tea station housed in a cabinet. The cabinet stores water, accommodates an electric socket for plugging in the kettle, and stores tea and tea-making supplies. "My wife, who loves to drink tea, is very fond of the design," says Guang. 

At the opposite wall, the team placed a low-lying console carved from a single log that was over 18 feet long. "My good friend, Yonghong, who is the creative director of the furniture brand SoLIFE, took me to Indonesia for half a month to find [the log]," Guang recalls. Chen then designed a coffee table from four pieces of 19th-century Bluestone from the Netherlands, and paired it with a rich garnet velvet Pumpkin loveseat designed by Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset.  

The 19th-century Bluestone slabs in their found state.

Chen designed circular copper bases for the Bluestone to create a coffee table with gravitas. The light is the Artemide Aggregato ceiling light with a counterweight.

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In the hall, the wall art is fashioned from vintage Japanese wine bags. The walnut and cowhide Chéng Qǐ Stool is from U+ Furniture.

The wood staircase is capped with a smooth brass handrail.

The kitchen is visually removed from the dining room thanks to fluted glass partitions. 

Such deft combinations proliferate throughout the home, thanks to Chen. According to Guang, the first step in the process was realizing that he couldn’t tackle his house’s design as he would a regular work project, but would instead need his friend’s guidance and expertise. 

"I built a file folder on the desktop of my PC and threw in my favorite pictures, including structure, function, technology, decoration, and details," says Guang. "The more I looked at it, the more doubt I had about my own ideas. And I began to understand that a perfect home cannot be sewn up by fragmentary points and surfaces, and space design is not like a jigsaw puzzle. So, I went to Bob and said, ‘Come on and help out.’" 

Now, the home is filled, not only with all the pieces that Guang has scouted, but the skills and contributions of Chen and many other talented makers and friends. "If we break all the walls, a ‘home’ typically displays items that embody the owner’s memory," says the firm. "Visiting one's home is like going through one’s past and walking into their emotions." 

In the dining room, Hans J. Wegner classic armchairs surround a custom table designed by Chen. The screen in the corner is a vintage Pierre Jeanneret.

A glimpse into the process to make the white marble dining table.

Guang’s collections room.

The drawing room has a table and chairs from the brand SoLIFE.

The tea room is illuminated by an Akari UF3-Q Light Sculpture by Isamu Noguchi in the corner. 

A sketch of the step into the tea room fashioned from a rock.

The tea room overlooks a petite outdoor space. Chen’s eye for scale guided the home’s build as well. "Bob’s father is a carpenter. He has been observing lines since he was a little boy," says Guang. "He is extremely sensitive when it comes to corners and lines."

A detail shot of the threshold between the tea room and the small courtyard. "All the flooring materials come from my friend Guohua’s brand ‘sense things,’" says Liu. "Guohua has been a close friend of Bob and me for many years, and we have been doing our best to help each other throughout the whole process."

The Ruché bed was designed by Inga Sempé for Ligne Roset.

An Artemide NH Wall sconce sits over an antique bedside table. 

In Guang’s office, Chen designed a lacquered desk to join the Philippe Starck chair, Louis Poulsen desk lamp, and Chinese folk "drum stools."

Chen commissioned artist Zhang Junlei to make the study desk. On a trip that Guang and Chen took to Fuzhou, "the local handicraft of lacquer impressed [Chen]," says Guang. The desk took two months to finish, as it undergoes multiple layers of lacquer application.

Chen and Guang worked with Shenshan Landscape Design on the courtyard. "Material is the key point in landscape design," says Liu.

Related Reading: 

An Amazing Home Rises From an Abandoned Ruin in China

10 Ingenious Home Renovations in China That Defy Expectation

Project Credits:

Landscape Design: Shenshan Landscape Design

Interior Design: Bob Chen Design Office


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