The passion project of a classical musician and comic aficionado, the Polyphony store is a one of a kind collector’s heaven in China. An ardent admirer of Apple and a trained pianist and designer by vocation, the client was highly involved in the process and placed much emphasis on all elements being of the best quality possible.

Key materials used in the project include sepia tinted glass, fabric walls from KVADRAT, woven vinyl flooring from BOLON, and ERCO luminaries.

Design Requirements:

The client’s background as a professional musician and his personal values, experiences and beliefs played a central role in the design process. With the discipline and fastidiousness that is demanded of a concert pianist shaping his attitude towards the project, his tastes were dictated by his experience in graphic design and video production.

His strong desire to create an experience untainted by imprecision and impurity was reflected in his willingness to spare no expense to create an exceptional environment.

The client also required a design that was pure and crisp and aligned with the team’s understanding of modern interior design. While emphasizing the pursuit of excellence and high standards in interior construction, the client required a distinction to be made between the high-end and what he considered to be frivolous luxury.

The target audience for the combination records/comics café was not a collector archetype usually observed in western countries but hip and fashionable Chinese youth of the current decade. This subset in China is most likely to pursue distinctly American pastimes such as reading superhero comics and listening to music records- activities which are generally attributed to nerd culture and vinyl purist hipsters stateside.


Following the wishes of the client, the team discarded any design plans that referenced retro and vintage themes, instead going with a futuristic concept. Though a retro-inspired interior design would be commonly accepted for a store selling old comics and providing access to vinyl records, taking the opposite approach resulted in a pleasantly eccentric aesthetic and conceptual contrast.

Though the client was rigid in matters of quality, the team was given much leeway in terms of delivery timelines; enough time was allowed for conceptualizing plans, selecting materials and building mock-ups before execution, a standard set of processes that is considered wasteful and leisurely in today’s China.

Every detail and fitting was tested rigorously. The lighting fixtures, flooring and wall material were sourced from industry leaders, with the lighting fixtures from ERCO being a rare feature in China.

Only the very best or exclusive products were used, and those which could not be purchased due to their specific nature, such as the displays for comics and records, were made especially for the project.

Defining Aspects:

The interior design is primarily minimalist and bright, with light grey and white being the predominant colors. Sepia was employed to demarcate the section for vinyl records, both for display and appreciation. This color choice was based on the ubiquity of sepia tint in film and various media, often used for evoking associations with artefacts of nostalgia. The sepia tint for the glass wall along with the orange fabric-clad wall outside the soundproof listening studio lend some warmth to an otherwise cold white environment.

The solutions for showcasing the client’s valuable collections were tailored specifically for the purpose. Two simple, custom-made display walls were installed for each category. For the comics, around 150 pivoting acrylic display cases were embedded into the longest uninterrupted wall. The second wall, dedicated to presenting the vinyl records, was created out of sepia-toned glass panels which separate the area for comics from the small section earmarked for listening to records. This wall utilizes groups of four aluminum pins to hold and display records.

The central space is occupied by wide, light grey sofa benches with accompanying iPads that provide access to Polyphony’s digital library of comics.

The overall result of the design was a chic and modern setting that would be appreciated not only by comics and records enthusiasts but curious visitors enticed by the visuals of the store. The lifestyle experience afforded by the store is further enriched by an additional function- as a venue for intimate classical music concerts that are also live streamed for internet audiences.

Hard Fact:

Location: Beijing,  China

Client: Polyphony

Size: 170 m2

Previous Award:

2017 INSIDE World Interior Awards: Highly Commended (Retail)

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