Ruan Wenzhong, a patriotic entrepreneur and charitable official in the late Qing Dynasty, owned a very nice house on Yongjia Lu. The house at 617 Yongjia Lu, built in 1906, has been a mystery for much of recent history, however, closed to the public for decades. Until March 2019, when it became "The Paragraph", an independent design shop that sells affordable Nordic-style furniture and contemporary arts. Neighbors and shoppers alike finally got to see inside. So did I.
Dubbed "The King of Eggs and Poultry", Ruan built his villa in classical British-style. Near the entrance, the two-story building that used to house maids and drivers is now a showroom for dining rooms and home theaters.
The three-story main building has a beautiful garden attached, which you can glimpse while browsing the 10+ showrooms, as well as the staircase and antique fireplaces. Shopping here isn't always the literal kind; the architecture is itself a kind of product.
It must cost a fortune just to maintain the look of the building. But unlike what you might expect from this area, furniture here isn't exorbitantly expensive: chairs range from a few hundred to around 3,000rmb; twin beds cost around 3-7,000rmb. Quite a few oil paintings are less than 400rmb.
As the staff explained, the shop's name meant to imply the temporary role the furniture plays in our life.
*** The Paragraph, 617 Yongjia Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu. Open daily, 10.30am-9.30pm. Follow their WeChat to browse remotely: tphome617.