There is much more to this glamorous Jiangsu province home than meets the eye.
On the surface, it’s a luxurious home in (Images courtesy of Alexander Wong Architects) to experience the unparalleled design: elegant shades of white and gold, with accents in a rich, deep red. “Our objective was to create a super-luxurious lifestyle,” says Alexander Wong, founder of Alexander Wong Architects. The firm was commissioned to design the 5,000-sq-ft family home, with its four bedrooms, karaoke room, pool room and gym. Scroll through the gallery below For Alexander, however, there’s much more to it than that. The architect is never content with just creating something that looks good – each of his designs has layer upon layer of meaning, and this home – dubbed White Windsor – is no exception. Alexander began the design process by looking at Lee Broom’s Gold Room at Lancaster House hotel during London’s 2012 Summer Olympics. “He understands the social caste system in England,” says Alexander. “In China, you don’t actually have a very sophisticated social pyramid, so we started looking at how people differentiate themselves.” For Alexander and his team, this involved an in-depth analysis of luxury brands like Hermès, Burberry and Gucci. “We realised that a lot of their histories are quite similar,” says the designer. “They started out with carriages and horse-related products. The horse is related to the landed gentry … there’s this knowledge that if you’re connected to the horse, you’re attached to the upper echelons of society.” Alexander brought this symbolism into the Jiangsu home via ponyskin rugs and buckle-like elements. Meanwhile, canopy chairs create a carriage-like effect. Recurrent circular motifs also give a nod to luxury brands: “The ‘O’ is from Dior,” says Alexander of the screens that divide various areas within the home. This screen also has another layer of meaning. “The screen is also a gate – like the gated community,” says Alexander. In some ways, it’s all rather “tongue in cheek,” as Alexander says, but there are darker implications. The “gate” effect and gilded birdcage elements speak of exclusivity, but they also demonstrate that such a life can be a bit of a prison. “You can’t leave – it’s like Hotel California. It can be very lonely,” says Alexander. “But you have to understand this is the price you have to pay if you want this sort of life.” In Alexander’s world, everything has deeper meaning, and this even goes for the use of colour in the Jiangsu home. “Red may seem like a typical choice for a luxury Chinese home,” he points out, “but to us, red is the colour of bloodlines, the colour of family life.” The power of family is also represented through fertility symbols – the art inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, and the recessed ceiling elements. “Biology is very profound – you go through the doorway and you reach eternity,” says Alexander. “We wanted to create this house so that on the surface it’s beautiful, but then there’s another layer that’s both humorous and critical,” he says. “To me, design is a journey.” And with Alexander, that journey is never dull – it’s a rollercoaster ride that reveals surprising new twists and turns at every corner.