Creativity in the clouds

Creativity in the clouds

I visited the recently opened Duoyun Book Store, “Books above the Clouds,” on the 52nd floor of Pudong’s Shanghai Tower, the city’s tallest building. There I saw the end result of a design project spearheaded by Wutopia Labs.

Shanghai Tower — tallest building in Shanghai, 3rd tallest building in Asia
Whimsical cloud art throughout the space

This cultural space, which has a bookstore with lots of nooks for reading, a lecture room, and exhibition space, dazzles the visitor with its maze of mountains and valleys of translucent bookshelves interrupted by a “Tiffany” blue cafe and pink dessert house connected at either end to glass viewing spaces to view the vast skyline of Shanghai.

Buying coffee and tea in the Tiffiany blue cafe

Wutopia Labs, which find its inspiration in magical realism, aims
to create miracles in daily life based on GLOCALIZATION.” Native Shanghainese and main architect, Yu Ting, adheres to the philosophy that “all design comes from love of life.” Since founding Wutopia Labs in 2013, Yu and his colleagues have based their projects on that philosophy plus a bit of whimsy. “You can make your imagination come true,” he says.

You can make your imagination come true!

And imagination is certainly on display in the 284-foot (239 meters) space. China’s highest bookstore boasts more than 60,000 books resting on two thousand tons of sleek shelving.

I spent some time in the space and can attest to its comfort and beauty. The book collection is massive, with tomes from Japanese anime to western art, philosophy, and history. While there were the requisite titles by President Xi and other PRC leaders from past and present, the range of books would impress any reader.

And the Chinese are readers. Toddlers, curious kids, teenagers, and adults browse the mountains and valleys where they find lots of cozy places to sit or stand to read. They migrate to the viewing area where they can admire Shanghai’s impressive skyline. They drink coffee or tea at one of the cafes, specially painted in Tiffany blue.

Everyone can find a space…

I and a couple of Germans appeared to be the only westerners exploring the store on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I guess we added to the Glocalization sought by the designers. That was okay. It gave me plenty of time to people-watch, choose some books, and watch the Chinese take selfies and group photos, which seems to be a favorite thing to do.

Joining the crowd and taking a selfie

Yu Ting is right. A creative and well-designed space really can make your imagination come true.


Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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