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A Superlative Chinese Home with Superyacht Sensibilities

The Chengdu home was envisioned by Portuguese yacht-interior designer Sá Aranha & Vasconcelos…

Superyacht-like styling anchors this lavish residence in China.

The portuguese studio Sá Aranha & Vasconcelos (SA&V) has designed stunning interiors for some of the world’s most impressive yachts, and at first glance this project seems to be one of them. Its decorative elements include high-gloss ebony wood, leather panels, bronze detailing, and ceilings recessed and framed by copper-finished stainless steel. Closer inspection, however, reveals that this well-appointed living environment is not a floating palace, but rather an 8,800-square-foot, four-level home located in the heart of one of China’s most populous cities, Chengdu, within a recently unveiled 30-unit residential development called Luxe Garden. SA&V designed the residence as a model home at Luxe Garden, in collaboration with the Chinese architecture firm Matrix Design. 


“We wanted to use a very special way to show the space, so we borrowed from yacht design to create a concept of customization,” says Matrix principal Guan Wang, whose admiration for a SA&V–designed yacht led him to propose a superyacht-style ambience for the property. The designers also looked at the home’s locale for inspiration. “Chengdu has a major art-deco influence in its architecture and even the street lamps,” says SA&V cofounder and chief designer Rosário Tello, who helms the company with partner Carmo Aranha. 

At a certain point the team sensed the home’s design was at risk of becoming overwhelming, given the number of different materials and finishes being used. Consequently, they limited the colors, with a few exceptions, to an earth-toned palette of beige, ivory, gray, brown, and black. Nothing is pure white. “In China, the white-white color is for mourning,” says Tello.

Indeed, the home’s entertaining space is far from somber. Its various amenities are well suited for lively social gatherings and include a wine room stocked with Portuguese selections and a 650-square-foot indoor swimming pool lined with sea-blue glass tiles that are reflected in the space’s mirrored ceiling. The area, says Wang, is intended to be “the best memory if you had a party.” Adjacent to the pool is a post-dip lounge furnished with custom ivory-leather sofas and a floor featuring a mosaic inlay of locally sourced stone tiles. Ivory-leather curtains retract to reveal glass doors that open to a terrace, where an iron-and-glass table from Manutti awaits an alfresco lunch or dinner.

A double-height living area feels at once grand and cozy thanks to a custom wool carpet in a neutral-color-block style, which the designers laid over the room’s polished stone floor. A whimsical glass table reminiscent of a cloud is topped with two delicate glass ball sculptures by Irene Buarque, and two lacquered fiberglass side tables with gold-leaf embellishments resemble large pumpkins. The brown-velvet chaise longue and the ivory sofas in velvet and leather create comfortable spots for relaxation. In a pleasant contrast with the cream satin curtains, the walls feature dark ebony wood and chocolate-colored leather punctuated by gleaming stainless-steel accents.

Next to the living area is the dining room, where the Citadel Grande chandelier by Quasar seems to twist down from the recessed ceiling like a copper corkscrew. Below, a custom table composed of a dark-stained oak surface and an iron base repeats the chandelier’s circular form; ivory-leather chairs with chocolate-colored leather piping provide perfectly paired seating. The china is by Vista Alegre (see “Port Authority”) and the napkins are by Isabel Lara, both Portuguese brands. Predinner cocktails might be served from the space’s nearly 10-foot-long bar, whose stone surface is gold hued and 1 inch thick. The same stone tops the counters in the adjacent kitchen, which has ebony cabinetry.

In the home’s private spaces, a combination of silk, wool, cotton, and leather stays true to the neutral color palette save for a handful of deftly integrated exceptions. The soft orange color of the window-seat pillows in one of the bedrooms complements a pair of Copper Shade lamps by Tom Dixon. Here, velvet covers two armchairs—one black and the other ivory. In another bedroom, custom leather stools and a throw have a distinctive fuchsia hue that references the adjacent study’s desk of red-lacquered steel and black leather. A bench covered in Mongolian goat fur sits at the end of the bed for “something a little crazy to bring joy,” says Aranha. A third bedroom plays it a bit safer, with brown and cream tones and stainless-steel and copper accents.

SA&V felt that the home’s topmost level—the spaces closest to the sun—should be its brightest, so the designers infused the master suite with bold lemon hues, from the velvet headboard and silk pillows to the throws and side table. They carried the color through to the study, where a custom ebony-and-steel desk is topped in yellow leather. Even the suite’s darker pieces add a certain sheen: A settee bench at the end of the bed is swathed in sleek black velvet “that shines a little bit,” Tello says. The room opens to a generous balcony, outfitted with weather-resistant Manutti furniture, from which views of the city, if not the ocean, can be enjoyed.  

Matrix Design, matrixdesign.cn; Sá Aranha & Vasconcelos, +351.218.453.070, saaranhavasconcelos.pt


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