A crafted community space for electric vehicle brand NIO
By Retail4Growth Bureau | November 15, 2022
Kokaistudios transformed the corner unit of a shopping mall in central Jinan into a landmark NIO House for the electric vehicle brand NIO. Centred on themes of family, community, and home, the resulting space features innovative twists on conventional car showroom elements, such as interactive and mobile displays, as well as strategic material choices.
Kokaistudios recently established innovative design principles for electric vehicle brand NIO, ’s signature NIO Houses in Jinan. For NIO, Kokaistudios transformed the corner unit of a shopping mall in central Jinan into a landmark NIO House. Centred on themes of family, community, and home, the resulting space features innovative twists on conventional car showroom elements, such as interactive and mobile displays, as well as strategic material choices. The Jinan venue also incorporates key design principles for a new design template for the next generation of NIO Houses.
NIO Houses are a core component of the car brand’s strategy and international presence. By Oct.22, 2022, numbering 87 in China alone, they incorporate multiple functions including showroom, clubhouse, meeting space, and more. Each one is unique, many of the architect-designed Houses have become destinations in their own right. To ensure the needs of NIO users remain a top priority within these diverse spaces, the brand invited Kokaistudios to evolve the NIO House design concept for consistency and community. Building on existing values of ‘Pure, Human, Progressive, Sophisticated’, the Jinan space realizes and defines specific design principles to provide a replicable framework for future NIO Houses.
Kokaistudios’ landmark NIO House occupies a prime two-floor corner unit of Jinan HuashanUni Park, close to the mall’s primary entrance and with high visibility from the street. Newly opened up to match an overarching ‘Open House’ design concept, to deliver multiple functions to a diverse user base the venue takes inspiration from a typical family home. The more public-facing ground floor is imagined as a parking garage and yard; and upstairs is space for entertainment and study, a dining and kitchen area, a family room, and a play area.
Cars are displayed in the ground floor parking. This showroom area incorporates signature design features from other NIO Houses such as mirrored ceilings, inviting visitors to quite literally see the electric vehicles from a new perspective. Alongside is a raised lounge area intended for conversations with prospective customers, furnished with bespoke furniture that recalls the shape of NIO cars. A newly established design principle for future NIO Houses, the blurred boundary between showroom and lounge creates a semi-private space, all the while affording alternative views towards the cars themselves.
Connecting both of these elements is another of Kokaistudios’ newly established standards for NIO: a gently curved path, backed by a continuous wall that runs the full breadth of the space. Devised as a flexible, dynamic information hub, positioned all along are interactive screens narrating the NIO brand story and lending a multimedia dimension to the ground floor area.
The space further differs from traditional car showrooms through its materials and display devices. For example, natural plaster on pillars and walls creates a sense of warmth, as well as being a cost-effective and sustainable solution. The design principle is echoed in the wooden path that runs along the back of the space, which lends an organic feel and movement to imply driving and travel. In lieu of overtly commercial display areas for customizable components such as wheels and chargers, an interactive desk offers a more exclusive approach, transforming the process of specification and presentation into a ceremony-like experience. Similarly innovative is a display trolley that can be moved around the space, containing samples of upholstery trims and paint finishes for customers to browse.
Upstairs, the dynamic shapes, warm materials, and openness of the ground-floor showroom are translated into an altogether more domestic space, tailored to the community. A private member space exclusively for NIO users, it is accessed via a designated second-floor entrance.
A central area incorporates the core functions of a family home, including a dining area, kitchen, and lounge. A visually enticing space thanks to warm, tactile materials including bamboo flooring and natural plaster, the effect is enhanced by soft lighting to create a calm oasis within the surrounding mall setting.
The space has been carefully designed to offer guests full visibility no matter where they are sitting: on bar stools at a central dining table, on modular sofas at its edges, or cocktail tables in between. In addition to Kokaistudios’ bespoke furniture system, residential-inspired design instruments subtly display NIO’s expansive range of lifestyle products. This includes a set of shelves throughout the space, used to present the brand’s ceramics, tableware, food and so on to appear less as merchandise, and more as home decor.
The Quiet Lounge - effectively a private space for users to work, relax, or meet - is also home to a signature design element of all NIO Houses globally: localization. The area features a fireplace fitted with LED lights to evoke the cosiness northeastern China's winter season demands. Similarly, a central bar incorporates the handcrafted, locally made tiles for which Jinan is famous.
Other enclosed rooms located off of the centralized open-plan area include a private party space, and for NIO’s youngest users, a dedicated playroom. Visually connected by way of a large window for parents to keep a close eye on their children, the fun space remains consistent with this particular NIO House’s calm aesthetic by way of a predominantly green colour scheme and natural materials.
Envisaged as an open house in which the NIO community can flourish, Kokaistudios’ NIO House | Ji’nan Uni Park marks an evolution of the brand’s core design principles. A replicable, adaptable template for future projects, in Jinan it caters to a diverse user base, all the while referencing its unique geographical location.
Project name: NIO House｜Jinan Huashan Uni Park
Location: Ji’nan, China
Floor area: 717 sqm
Date of completion: Oct. 2022
Interior Design: Kokaistudios
Chief Designers: Filippo Gabbiani, Andrea Destefanis
Design Director: Ian Yu
Project Manager: Yin-Ying Tseng
Design Team: Suzy Zhang, Alba Wang, Weixi Gao, Lingshan Rao, Yan Song
Photography: Zhu Runzi
Text: Frances Arnold