Text description provided by the architects. After carving out their niche through fifteen years of hectic practice, Barefoot needed a new, bigger and better home. Specialized in family portraits and loved for creating cheerful galleries full of happy families and couples, Barefoot is not just another photography studio: it’s a place in which memories are crystallized for the future - a bright, open future full of possibilities. Quarta & Armando designed the new studio, located in Shanghai’s Jing An district, to become the best possible background for collecting happy moments of people’s lives. In line with Barefoot’s signature no-frills approach in which trust is gained (and kept) by means of sheer quality and efficiency, the whole space is designed around one single element: a twenty-four meters long parete attrezzata (equipped wall unit) separating working space and reception space.
Hidden in the thickness of this monolithic “toy box”, all storage requirements are absorbed, all functions contained (including reception desk, office, make-up room, dressing room and pantry) and all flows organized: it is neither architecture nor furniture, but both at the same time. By managing to squeeze eighty percent of all fixed functions in twenty percent of the whole surface, the resulting space becomes the stage for endless interaction. Towards the actual working area, a patchwork of materials and textures defines different working areas, exposing the workshop nature of the studio.
The external surface of the wall towards the glazed corridor is entirely cladded with soft cork sheets to acoustically separate the studio from the waiting areas, while its internal OSB wood structure is exposed in nooks and openings. Avoiding traditional doors, the transition from space to space relies entirely on sliding panels, low semi-transparent partitions and milky PVC shower curtains, marking soft thresholds which invite rather than excluding.
Taking into consideration the ever-changing nature of a photography studio, Q&A adopted a just-enough approach to the design of all shooting areas, resulting into careful subtractions into otherwise white pristine surfaces, exposing and framing the roughness and beauty of construction materials.