Little Black Book

Finding Inspiration in Shanghai’s Former French Concession

by Liza Serratore and Claire Russo
Dumpings A classic Chinese snack in Shanghai's French Concession. All photos courtesy of LuRu Home.

While living in Shanghai, LuRu Home co-founders Liza Serratore and Claire Russo were inspired to start their beautiful Chinese home textile company after seeing faded indigo fabric in the French Concession and Huangpu alleyways. The duo compiled a personal list of their favorite shops and restaurants in the charming neighborhood that helped launch their brand.

SHANGHAI – In 2011, while living in Shanghai, we started our home textile line, LuRu Home. Our goal was to breathe new life into Chinese fabric design. Creative inspiration was all around us — in the food, the streets, the architecture, and the former French Concession. From a favorite restaurant doing traditional Chinese street food in a modern way to an exquisitely preserved three-story lane house-turned-fashion destination, these are the spots we frequented in search of classic Shanghai moments and funky Chinese trends.

LuRu Home Textiles

LuRu Home Nankeen pillows.

 Dong Lian Shanghai

Contemporary Chinese apparel at Dong Liang.


Untour Shanghai
Start your French Concession adventure with these guys. The insanely knowledgeable, English-speaking guides will whisk you down back alleys to sample the staples of local street cuisine in Shanghai. Bring your cameras: You'll find plenty of photo ops.

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre
868 Hua Shan Rd., Xuhui district; +86-21-6211-1845
Housed in the basement of a Soviet-era apartment building, the unsuspecting destination has an incredible collection of Chinese propaganda poster art, one-of-a-kind pieces you can purchase` for your own collection.

Dong Liang
184 Fumin Rd., Jing'An district; +86-21-3469-6926
Get to know the who's who of contemporary Chinese apparel design by exploring the exquisitely preserved three-story lane house-turned-fashion destination.

Madame Mao's Dowry
207 Fumin Rd., Jing'An district; +86-21-5403-3551
Linda Johnson's Fumin Lu store brings together the best of old and new Shanghai. A rare collection of Mao-era trinkets and framed art are sold alongside up-and-coming Shanghai decor and apparel brands. Visiting the store will inspire an appreciation of Shanghai's position at the confluence of myriad design trends.

439 Wukang Rd., Xuhui district; +86-21-6466-2495
The homewares shop curates the city's best contemporary design and decor. Take notice of their in-house ceramics collection. They fire it in the ancient kilns of China's porcelain hub, Jingdezhen.

Madame Mao's Dowry Shanghai

Madame Mao's Dowry. 

 Xibo Shanghai

Xibo's interior is inspired by the ancient Silk Road.


150 Hubin Rd., Huangpu district; +86-21-6333-5675
Baozi or bao translates as "bun" in English. Typically filled with pork and vegetables, the bun is a staple of most Chinese diets. Baosim breathes new life into the classic Chinese snack. Their with riffs on East-meets-West combos, like White Rabbit soft serve (inspired by the local brand of milk candy) and McFlurry-like shakes studded with fried bits of dough, are fun and clever.

378 Wukang Rd., Xuhui district; +86-21-6433-6711
Tired of Chinese food? Well, you are in the former French Concession. Rest your feet with coffee and confections at French bakery Farine. The cheesecake is top-notch.

3/F, 83 Changshu Rd., Xuhui district; +86-21-540308330
For a taste of China's Northwest, try the modern Xinjiang menu. Lamb and smoky spices feature prominently, and the stone and wood interior evoke Asia's ancient Silk Road.

Four Seasons Dumpling King
1791 Huaihai Xi Rd., Xuhui district; +86-21-6433-0349
For years, the restaurant served as our group dinner spot because it dishes up the tastiest Dongbei-style (Northern Chinese) food around. It doesn't cater to English speakers but has a charming English menu that's worth a look for the translation alone. Make sure to order the flat chicken entree.

YongFoo Elite
200 Yongfu Rd., Xuhui district; +86-21-5466-2727
The stunning, old mansion-turned-consulate for Russia, Vietnam, and finally the UK, now houses the YongFoo Elite social club. Art Deco decor and traditional Chinese fine art collide on the landscaped plot tucked behind an imposing guarded gate. Sip a drink in the garden on a warm evening before exploring the rambling manse's nooks and crannies.


Shanghai Nights: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Feeling on Top of the World in Shanghai
Shanghai: 12 Things to Do, Not Do, and Maybe Do

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.