Environmental consideration at the heart of every design

Yang Di
Jaycee Chui is the co-founder of MDO, an interior and architecture practice based in Shanghai.
Yang Di
Environmental consideration at the heart of every design
Courtesy of Jaycee Chui / Ti Gong

Jaycee Chui is the co-founder of MDO.

Who is she?

Jaycee Chui is the co-founder of MDO, an interior and architecture practice based in Shanghai. Born in Hong Kong, Chui studied architecture in Nottingham University and Westminster University in the UK, and later worked in London for four years where she met her husband and business partner. They moved to Shanghai during the 2010 Expo and Chui began working for a luxury retail construction firm for seven months as a design manager but left to start as a freelance designer. And now she is the co-founder of a 60-people company.

Tell us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of?

One of my favorite projects is the one we have just completed on Anfu Road next to Baker and Spice, a flower shop called Absolute owned by our good friend Jing. She gave us a lot of freedom on the design and I think we have created something very special and unique, a quiet sanctuary off a busy street.

Recently a couple of projects of ours were awarded gold and silver at the WIN Awards against some great international projects. One is a residential club house with an amazing swimming pool and the other is an experience center which features a 4.5-meter-tall robot that we designed and custom-made.

Are you currently involved with any project?

At the moment we are working on a few large developments with high-end developers in Shanghai, where we are designing their luxury show apartments and sales center. But we are also doing other types of projects, including a flower shop, office and a private clubhouse in Hangzhou, a branding center in Chengdu, and a yacht club and luxury villas in Muscat, Oman.

The private clubhouse is one of the most interesting, as we are designing the whole project, from architecture to interior and soft furnishing.

Describe your design style?

I don’t have a style, rather an approach. I try to avoid applying the same idea, instead I look at each new project as a new opportunity, and carve out a design based on the scenario.

Where are you most creative?

I get inspired when I’m relaxed so it can be anywhere. I find a good holiday is great for the mind. At the start of the pandemic we were in Bali with family and friends. We were only meant be there for one week, but ended up staying for one month exploring luxury hotels across the island.

What does your home mean to you?

We travel a lot and have lived in many different countries and cities, so home is not a physical place. We have two young kids so home really is where my family is.

What do you collect?

I collect memories and experiences and I think that’s more important than any physical things. I don’t like to have too many possessions, when it comes to my own home I enjoy calm and quiet space. I also enjoy moving houses, we have moved seven times since we moved to China a decade ago.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

I find that I am rarely 5 kilometers’ radius of our home. I am so busy with work but we live in the tree-lined downtown so we have all we need on our doorstep.

What will be the next big design trend?

I don’t really believe in trends. I see the value of something that can last a lifetime, instead of being disposable and needing to constantly buy new or refresh. We have responsibility to consider our environment and make something that is meaningful and long lasting.

Special Reports