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In Profile: Chris Shao Studio

In Profile: Chris Shao Studio

Shortlisted: for 3 categories

The International Hotel & Property Awards 2024

The International Hotel & Property Awards 2024

Name: Chris Shao

Company: Chris Shao Studio

Position within company: Director / Founder


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)

I first studied at the business school of Univerisity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris, graduating with a double bachelor degree in international business and marketing. Later on, I pursued a Master of Fine Arts at the New York School of Interior Design, landing my first project while I was still a student — to design the interiors of a multi-family project at 111 Varick Street in SoHo, New York.

From there I started my interior design studio Chris Shao Studio, opening the New York office in 2017 and then Shanghai in 2020. Currently, both studios have broadened their design footprints focusing on high-end residential, hospitality, and commercial projects internationally.

In 2020, I decided to venture into collectible design, founding a gallery in Shanghai. Objective Gallery marked a cultural shift in the country’s relation to contemporary art and design. Upon the success of Shanghai, Objective Gallery quickly expanded opening a New York location based in West SoHo. 

How would you describe your personal design style?

I like to say that our studio lends a signature twist to everyday essentials. We are less interested in committing to one style, instead we like to focus on how we can bring a distinct feeling that is in line with our client’s style and desires. The marriage of masculine with feminine is a reoccurring theme, I like to mix the bold and sharp with the soft and romantic. All classics can be seen through a contemporary lens. My design philosophy is grounded in a respect for materials, looking toward the avant-garde while reinterpreting time-tested classics.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

We find inspiration working within the bounds of the client, the location, the culture; each project holds the keys to unlocking new inspiration. We gather all the information we can about and take it to dive deeper through related research. Of course, history informs us in the conceptual phase. From here we look to how we can integrate today, in a contemporary sense or alter with our client mind.


In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

A sense of timelessness and classical elegance has reentered after shying away the last couple of years. There have been amazing experiments in the past few years, but I see a return to quality. The emphasis is on craft, attention to detail and materials. As a designer I don’t want to speak over these things, I want to allow these things do the talking for me.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2023 and beyond.

Quality, details, elegance, cultivating an individual style and honoring this.

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?

The IDA awards allow us to recognize and celebrate exceptional work, these accolades elevate the work we do as we strive to do better. There is a respect that is fostered with awards, a respect for what you are creating and your peers.

What projects are you currently working on?

I would love to say but it’s NDA. It will be a big deal for Chris Shao Studio and we are very excited.

What was your favourite project to work on and why?

I have to say EHB, the one shortlisted on this competition is my favorite. I love historical buildings and to have this in China, a country with a long history of demolishing older buildings as an expression national revolution, is uniquely special. Blending Nordic and Chinese design through subtle nods toward traditional aesthetics and techniques. I find much  beauty in the amalgamation, and the meeting of two distinct cultural identities. Our studio highlights the acute details of each through rigorous research and a zoomed in / zoomed out practice of design.

What was your most challenging project to work on and why?

Project zero. My first project presented challenges residing outside of technical design, though are no less important. Working with people of various experience levels across varying industries is a learning curve. Fostering the confidence while working with those with 20 years’ experience while you are on year one.

Which products/services could you not live without when designing?

Products and services aside it is COLOR! I cannot live without color, and the trend of wall-to-wall beige is totally alien to me. One thing I want to include in every design is suede. I love the smell, texture, how it evolves over time.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

Growing the team in a big way! In numbers and projects.


Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your most treasured possession?
A ring my dad gave me when I came out.

Your favourite holiday destination?

The desert

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?

Hotel: Le Coucou Courcheval

Restaurant: EN Japanese Brasserie in the West Village

Bar: Hotel Fouquet’s New York

 Your favourite book, film & song?

Film: Green Book, & Poor Things

Song: Sunshine by Latto

Your favourite food and drink?

Hendrick’s martini with a lemon twist

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

Sitting in front of a fireplace

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

Fashion stylist

Chris Shao Studio has been shortlisted for 3 categories in The International Hotel & Property Awards 2024.

The International Hotel & Property Awards

design et al only work with the world’s leading companies in the International Hotel & Property industry.

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Use the links below for more information about the Awards:

The International Hotel & Property Awards 2024
are organised by design et al

Sylka Carpets
Marine Leather

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