Shanxi Bei Road, Shanghai, 70sqm


Shanghai’s latest thriving neighbourhood of ShangKang Li has just welcomed a curious new cocktail bar called Zodiac. The team behind this new bar had the vision to base the venue on the traditional Chinese Star signs. However, to bring this old concept to life in a fresh way, they were going to need to create a new experience.

Award-winning design studio hcreates took the brief for this small concrete shell, and set about creating a dramatic yet intimate space. The idea was to create something that created a spark of intrigue from outside and then continued to unravel moments of intrigue through the playful use of space and materials.

From the street a large, copper tinted, picture window gives you a glimpse into the action, framing the interior and beckoning you inside. Upon entering you step into a small, darkened foyer, designed to bring a moment of quiet and anticipation. You then journey up and emerge in front of a gleaming, copper, sunken bar, serving up bespoke star sign inspired cocktails.


The space features a DIY station where customers can participate behind the bar, making their own cocktail with the bartender. A one-way mirror behind the bar turns into a dynamic screen, playing the customers individual zodiac visual as they perform. The central sunken bar is hcreates Design Director - Hannah Churchill’s favourite feature, “I wanted to bring a sense of theatre by creating a stage for the bartender, allowing the customer to view the action from a higher angle”. 

The gleaming copper bar is contrasted by textured, dark red walls wrapping the venue. The dramatic deep red walls provide a rich backdrop for the zodiacs. Each star sign has been reinterpreted and brought to life, with edgy, vibrant, baroque art, being cleverly reimagined and created to span an entire wall of the venue. As you leave the front of the bar you step down into more intimate seating areas, moving past the framed wall of zodiacs, discovering each one in more detail. Throughout the venue, plush, velvet, banquette seating forms cosy pockets, allowing for both open and private space.


The overall space has a warm and cosy vibe with many playful elements and details to explore as people sit and back and enjoy their very own Zodiac cocktail.

Photography: Brian Chua

Branding and Graphics: The Orangeblowfish


Shanghai Daily