LUXURYCULTURE.COM - The High Life at Shanghai's 41


At Forty One, Shanghai's first and foremost luxury high-rise, stylish comfort reigns supreme.

At Forty One, Shanghai's first and foremost luxury high-rise, stylish comfort reigns supreme.

Not only is Shanghai's old French concession the best district for shopping, art hunting and dining out, it is also one of the most highly prized for its historical and architectural prestige. Adding a luxurious high note to the landscape is Forty One, a sumptuous full-service rental apartment complex located in the heart of the diplomatic district. Surrounded by green consular gardens and low-rise villas, Forty One reigns supreme. Brainchild of Pearl Lam, one of the country's most rapacious art patrons and entrepreneurs, Forty One was designed in homage to its neo-classical heritage. Its impeccable design – from the Baccarat chandeliers, hand-crafted bronze doors and marble lobby, to the art deco-styled furniture that fills each apartment – has raised the standards of style throughout the city. But its most exceptional attribute is far more discreet: Kempinsky management ensures five-star amenities, such as 24-hour reception, daily housekeeping, valet, concierge and security services. All twenty-four stories promise breathtaking views of the surrounding historic district, and each apartment is bathed in natural sunlight. Ranging in size from 97 to 199 square meters, these unique pampering pads are the ultimate in stylish comfort. While most of the grandiose apartments are available for long-term rentals of one or two years, there are also a handful of apartments left for sale. Snatch one up now and own a piece of Shanghai's most exclusive property, Kempinsky servicing included.

Pearl Lam, owner of Forty One, describes how the complex came into being.

What inspired you to open Forty One?
There was a property that my mother bought that she decided to make into a development. In order to get the permit to build she promised to create something that raised the aesthetic level for the skyline of China and the city of Shanghai. I then drafted a design proposal, and it was upon that proposal that Forty One was built. It was very difficult because all of my friends were saying to me that I was building a spaceship in a jungle. But we managed, and eight years later it was completed.

How has it been received since it's opening?
It's considered the best in China. It's always getting awards. It is based on French neo-classicism mixed with Chinese elements and is the only building of its size in the French concession. We have 24 floors, although urban planning restrictions limit construction in the historical district to four floors. My mother was able to get approval to surpass the zoning limitations because she promised that the building's aesthetic would improve the look of the city. If you go around Shanghai now, almost every hotel has more or less the same lobby and exterior because we have raised the aesthetic standards.

How was the design conceived?
We were trying to find a middle ground where both Chinese and French elements would be present, so art deco was the obvious choice. I commissioned Patrice Butler to realize the whole concept.

While the Forty One aesthetic has influenced the developments in Shanghai, do you foresee it's impact spreading to other cities?
It already has in Beijing, everywhere. I really do like avant-garde architecture but people don't necessarily like living in those spaces, they want to live in glamorous surroundings and this is what the Forty One is all about. So, if you build a development that is completely avant-garde or minimalist, it's not necessarily what people aspire to live in. What we did was create a neo-classical building that bears the message 'this is glamorous' and it ultimately attracts people to come and see it.

Who lives in the apartments?
Those who live as renters are mostly expatriate Westerners from the embassies. Those who own the apartments are mostly overseas Chinese, from Taiwan, Hong Kong or American-born Chinese.

Forty One Hengshan Road
41 Hengsham Road, Xuhui District Shanghai, PR China 20031

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