As one of the happiest cities in China, Chengdu stands out from other first and second-tier cities with its unique “slow life” urban culture that effortlessly blends with its rapid city development. The city boasts of an exciting hybrid of leisurely activities that spill out onto the public realm, where street-side tea sipping and outdoor corner hangouts are a part of typical Chengdu life. It is a place where the young and old coexist, and 24-hour culture is more the norm than the exception.

Client: HARMAY
Location: No. 300, Jiaozi Avenue, High-tech Zone, Chengdu
GFA: 585 sqm
Completion: 09.2022
Design Scope: Interior, facade
Design Principals: Wendy Saunders,Vincent de Graaf
Studio Director: Yvonne Lim
Team Leaders: Simon Huang, Jerry Guo
Interior Team: Song Jie, Yuan Chen
Visualization: Jiao Yan
General Contractor: Shanghai Dongyuan Architectural Decoration Co., Ltd.
Display Supplier: Shanghai Jinyu Building Decoration Engineering Co., Ltd.
Main Materials: Galvanized steel, stainless steel, metal grill, non-slip floor tiles, standard plastic storage boxes, wood pallets, steel shelving
Photography: Wen Studio
CN Copywriter: Carmen Xu

Harmay Chengdu UFun by AIM ARCHITECTURE - Sheet3
©Wen Studio

In this project, our ambition was to bring together a 24-hour program at a single site. HARMAY Chengdu is an exploration of how a cosmetic store, bakery, and a bar can coexist and spatially influence each other. While it would have been easier to place them side by side, our intention was to create a crossover where one program influences the other throughout the day while offering the flexibility to function independently.

Centralizing the store, the bar and bakery embrace it with a linear space. The typology of this “store-within-a-store” is achieved with a simple and minimalist intervention. One continuous boundary encloses and divides the core spaces, simultaneously becoming the skin between the outdoor and indoor environments. Made from industrial factory door units, all identical in scale and appearance, the doors are openable and movable for accessibility and connection, but also locked in and static where needed. A window in each door unit allows the divided spaces to always have a visual connection, even when they are closed.

Harmay Chengdu UFun by AIM ARCHITECTURE - Sheet6
©Wen Studio

The simplicity of using industrial prefabricated elements is the main driver throughout the space. The repetitive stacking of these components forms the most dominant object in the interior, helping to organize the visitor’s spatial experience. As found in the brand’s warehouse, the prefabricated crates are affordable and easy to install. Stacking is a simple operation, but our design explores the potential of this element, with its standard size and durability, resulting in various furniture and objects.

The crates result in multiple display forms, and along with the brand’s standard rack system, generate a simple but unique store experience. The rest of the space is designed as a warehouse, with simple white floor tiles and a steel grill ceiling. Walking through the cashiers, made of other industrial elements, will lead visitors to the bakery. With views into the kitchen area and screen contents showing live thermal video footage of customers outside the store, visitors have an opportunity to engage with the brand in a literal way. The croissant-inspired outdoor seating elements from BAsdBAN are designed in a humorous and straightforward way, inviting visitors to sit down and try the popular pastries.

Harmay Chengdu UFun by AIM ARCHITECTURE - Sheet9
©Wen Studio

The flexibility and simplicity of the industrial facade emphasize easy human connections and interactions towards the public plaza. Chengdu is known for its outdoor life, and stacked wooden pallets become sitting areas where visitors can rest and meet freely. Once again, together with HARMAY we gave public space back to the community while actively participating in writing a new chapter in Chengdu’s city life.

This project has been an exploration of prefabricated elements, recalling the brand’s warehouse culture and reminding us that complex and customized techniques, materials, and design are not the only way to create high-quality retail experiences.

About AIM Architecture

AIM is a collective of passionate, international individuals. Founded by Belgian and Dutch architects Wendy Saunders and Vincent de Graaf in 2005, AIM brings together architecture with interior and product design to create wholly integrated products and ideas. Headquartered in Shanghai and with offices in both Antwerp and Chicago, AIM is a global studio with local feeling.

The approach is deliberate and focused. Context is paired with concept where the fine line between vision and practicality is explored. The results are unique spaces with powerful narrative, refined details, built-in love of materials and passion for place and purpose.

Looking at cities with fresh eyes, the studio’s community centric design pushes to enhance the vibrancy of a place and forge stronger connections with its people. AIM aims to activate and create positive impacts on cities through hospitality, retail, cultural and office projects.


Founded in 2008, HARMAY is a Chinese cosmetic brand known as an innovator in the industry. The company started as a cosmetics e-merchant on Alibaba’s Taobao and in 2017, HARMAY unveiled its first brick-and-mortar store using an architectural design quite unique among other retail cosmetic brands.

HARMAY Chengdu Ufun is part of AIM Architecture’s on-going collaboration with HARMAY, a design partnership that has helped to define a disruptive language in China’s architectural retail landscape.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.