Office AIO

Submitted for: Emerging Designer of the Year

Public Score
5.96 Function
5.92 Innovation
6.09 Creativity

About the Designer

Founded in 2014, Office AIO is a Beijing based boutique design studio offering intimate design services from Architecture to Interiors to customised Objects. Hailing from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and educated in New Zealand, the founders Tim Kwan and Isabelle Sun garner experiences from living and practicing architecture in across those regions.

Besides finding answers for client’s practical design objectives, Office AIO actively pursues inquiries of the brands and each of their future potential. They treat unique conditions imposed on a project as opportunities rather than constraints; thus, the result to each project is a response, in close dialogue with both its physical and strategic context.

For all projects, their intention for the space was never a formal “container”, but a fluid one that awaits work from the inside-out. They craft journeys so to add another dimension to the three-dimensional nature of architecture, an aesthetics of experiences in time. Their designs, layering views and surprises for the users, builds stories for the spaces.

Why they’ve been nominated

The rise of China’s economy asks two things from design, the need for speed and novelty. Throughout projects, Office AIO juggles between their “crave of control” for details, and openness to experiment in accordance to local craftsmanships. It does not limit itself to one lens of references when it comes to design vocabulary, but embraces diverse interpretations of this asian culture through the directors’ background and experiences.

What comes out of the intricate exploration of boundaries, is an elegance achieved through balance, with insertion of strong formal gestures or textures where appropriate. In the hands of Office AIO, principles of architecture carry themselves into interior design.

Contrary to an overemphasis on the pictorial effects in digital realm, their designs frequently downplay on surface embellishment. Instead, they often rely on a dramatic presence in form to create journey with multifaceted meanings. It aims for the active eyes in the space to wander indoor, along its coffeeshop veils or the rhythmic arches in a bar.

But this boldness in form is exercised with restraint, often balanced by a sense of colour that is confident and succinct. It also flirts with innuendoes of luxuriousness with its occasional bespoke details, expressing humble call for progressiveness in aesthetic intelligence for the region they are practicing in.

Described as "shrine like" by its customers, Bar Lotus Shanghai sets an elegant example of a successful design approach for a space that live two lives, a daytime café and an evening cocktail bar. The commercial conundrum of how to house two time-specific functions in one space? is solved by a spatial layout that is sensitive to its site conditions, and conscious of usage hierarchy presented in a refreshing labyrinth-like journey.

Beyond the layers of spatial arrangement that aims to support a multitude of social interactions, Office AIO was able to define an immersive sense of place through sculpted forms, minimal bespoke furniture and fittings, limited but attentive material palette along with orchestrated lighting design. Bar Lotus has become the go-to venue for renowned labels and creatives who further experiment with the space for special events.

Office AIO established enduring values for Bar Lotus and created spatial experience that offers beyond an instant digitally marketable moment, by steering design focus back to one of physical presence. The design puts strong emphasis on space itself, translating architectural values such as journey, transitions, scale, symmetry, hierarchy and simplicity along with products and social engagement to be understood as one experience.

Project Name: Bar Lotus
Client: Bar Lotus
Location: Shanghai, China
Typology: Hospitality
Year of Completion: 2018
Photography: Yujie Liu


The film business is one of dynamism, involving vigour and mobility both physically and mentally. To accommodate the flux of partners and teams revolving Chan’s filmmaking, the ambition for We Pictures is a graceful internalisation of the co-working trend.

Spaces are crafted with this mode of work in mind, allowing members of various functionalities to work temporarily by themselves or with others. In the common area, hot desks accommodate both short-term and long-term staff to integrate equally. While executives’ offices around the peripheral are visiting managers’ haven for solidarity, the war room acts as an open forum where brainwork of invited creatives weave and display on stage.

Contrasting with the collected atmosphere of the open working area, the warm and refined director’s room, was designed to be Chan’s home away from home.
Features of both corporate and co-working offices are extracted to accommodate the peculiar need of different work phases revolving filmmaking. By marrying unpretentiousness in whites and patterns with naturalism in greens and wood, the design creates senses of composure and belonging. This sets the workplace as a canvas that incubate and finetune the business’ out-of-office dreamwork.

In effect, We Pictures is not a static office for steady workforce, nor a co-working one with unfiltered buzz. It is an intended hub for picture-making professionals, to feel at ease with the vitality within its close-knit network of filming partnerships.

Project Name: We Pictures
Client: Peter, Ho-Sun Chan
Location: Beijing, China
Typology: Workspace
Year of Completion: 2018
Photography: Yiqing Gao


Playing with the notion of "between fact and fiction", designer treats cinema interior as a surreal journey to and from the physical and the fictional cinematic world. Besides holding the function of a boutique 7 house cinema and its supporting lounge program, Huaxia Cinemas' design brief calls for fulfilling an ambition within some fixed parameters imposed by the mall - To set a first example for a new cinema brand with a vision to elevate and change what audiences could expect from movie-going as an experience that begins before and ends after movie viewing.

Project Name: Huaxia Cinema
Client: Huaxia Universal Cinemas Ltd.
Location: Beijing, China
Typology: Entertainment
Year of Completion: 2018
Photography: Evgenii Kulakov


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