A trilogy of design projects for Hong Kong's own quick service restaurant giant Café de Coral sees Groundwork Architecture + Urbanism tap into the territory's best-loved cultural and social memories
There's nothing like nostalgia to evoke feelings of warm welcome and familiarity, two key components of a successful design make-over for one of Hong Kong's most successful and best-loved quick service restaurant groups, Café de Coral. So when local studio Groundwork Architecture + Urbanism was asked to breathe new life into a number of its brands and outlets, tapping into the territory's rich vein of social memory and culture was a logical step.
At Shanghai Lao Lao, a Shanghai cuisine concept restaurant from Café de Coral (its original outlet is located at Hong Kong International Airport), Groundwork's design celebrates the making of the food: "The highlights of the restaurant are the show-kitchen and the 'staged' noodle bar," explains the design firm's co-founder Manfred Yuen. "The customers can engage with the noodle-making process: the beating sound of the flour as it is turned into noodles and the steaming xiao long bao are all part of our our design."
Hence, the kitchen at the 500 sq-m space is open so that patrons can witness the entire process from start to finish: from the chef's hands to the bowls on their table. As well as serving as the designer for the outlet, Groundwork was also in charge of the rebranding of Shanghai Lao Lao's logo. "It was out wish that the new branding be manifested on every facet of the interior architecture," Yuen says. "It is our belief that both architectural design and branding must be coherent.
Where Shanghai Lao Lao recalls the romanticised imagery of old Shanghai, the Café de Coral outlet at Ferry Street, Guangzhou, recalls one of Hong Kong's most quirky and enduring phenomena: the cha chaan teng, where a peculiar yet tasty mix of east-meets-west dishes continue to remain firm favourites with local diners.
This is a preview of the “There’s no place like home" article from the July 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.
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