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DOMANI: My initial concept of “food” was somewhat blurry, originating from a childhood reading of Lu Wenfu’s novella “The Gourmet.” What left a deep impression on me was the two insights proposed by the character Zhu Zizhi in the story:
First, the greatest wisdom in cooking lies in a simple question: salted.
Second, the pinnacle of a dish is achieved through meticulous craftsmanship, presenting a sense of lightness, natural elegance, and the true essence of food.
These insights have remained in my vague understanding and became a spark of inspiration when I began designing at Exquisite BOCUSE.
During the project’s inception, I interviewed renowned chefs, including those from Exquisite BOCUSE, to uncover insights into the essence of culinary art. Their straightforward responses emphasized using quality ingredients, upholding tradition, capturing flavors, and mastering cooking fundamentals. While not groundbreaking, these principles proved to be the core essence of culinary craftsmanship. True mastery extends beyond technical expertise, and artistic expression surpasses mere sophistication.
And so it should be for the space
Hence, I let go of extravagant ideas and resisted the urge to create something sensational at the start of the design process. Immersed in the richness of Chinese cuisine, I keenly observed, listened, and experienced. This space became a metaphorical “salted,” inviting everyone to savor its subtle nuances.
Exterior of the restaurant-The restaurant’s exterior design embodies simplicity, elegance, and openness in the lively cityscape, conveying a sense of harmony and clarity that reflects the essence of “the path of simplicity.”
Specializing in a fusion of Cantonese and Jiangnan cuisine, the spatial design avoids historical and geographical references. Instead, it focuses on contemporary culinary techniques, allowing the timeless classics of Cantonese cuisine and the refined elegance of Jiangnan cuisine to coexist within a modern context. The atmosphere is present and understated, creating a space where these culinary traditions subtly thrive.
Ink-colored wood formwork concrete panels were chosen as the exterior wall material, emphasizing their texture and versatility. This material offers stain resistance, a warm and solid touch, and a flawlessly smooth appearance once installed. Developed in collaboration with Sheungyu Civil Engineering and Architecture, the process involved setting the mold, creating the formwork, color calibration, shape adjustments, determining thickness, installation, and multiple iterations of small samples. Resulting in a final outcome that exceeded our expectations. We are sincerely grateful for their contribution.
The foyer-The objective is to achieve a luxurious ambiance that is tasteful and refined, striking a delicate balance between elegance and simplicity. It exudes grandeur and harmony.
The foyer serves as the welcoming face of the host for entertaining guests. It represents etiquette, emphasizing the importance of proper conduct that reflects the host’s demeanor.
Continuing the ink-colored theme from the exterior, the selection of interior materials prioritizes their tactile qualities over visual appearance. Thoughtfully designed cabinets cleverly conceal consultation and storage functions. Within the space, I have meticulously arranged three sets of jade installations, adding a dynamic element to the overall ambiance.
A collaboration with A2 STONE, known for their meticulous craftsmanship, brought these exquisite jade installations to life. Describing art installations can be challenging, as it’s not just about the craftsmanship but also the difficulty in capturing their essence. We managed to preserve the raw and rustic texture of the jade while showcasing exquisite craftsmanship. The process began with the careful selection of rough jade materials, followed by meticulous steps such as surface selection, thickness determination, slicing, scanning, modeling, defining cutting edges, evaluating polishing surfaces and degree, and designing the assembly. Each step was executed with precision, like brushstrokes on a canvas. We extend our gratitude for their valuable contribution!
The dining hall-The dining hall achieves a harmonious balance between liveliness and tranquility with its semi-open and semi-partitioned design. It combines dynamism with orderliness.
Intersecting with various traffic routes, the dining hall clearly defining public circulation paths. The goal is to ensure appropriate privacy for dining hall guests while establishing clear pathways for public movement.
For a high-end restaurant’s dining hall, overly enclosed partitions can challenge guests’ sense of security and compromise the lively dining atmosphere. On the other hand, weak partitions can lead to excessive noise and disruptions to the dining experience.
Moreover, high-end restaurants often seat guests in groups of two to four in the dining hall. This means a dining hall may have multiple tables with six to seven groups dining together. Therefore, the partition settings require careful consideration to strike the right balance.
The traffic flow-Clarity and precision with a sense of rhythm are essential.
The organization of traffic flow is one of the most challenging aspects of restaurant design. The guest circulation emphasizes the rhythm of the dining experience, while the service flow for food delivery, clearing tables, and back-of-house logistics radiates from the kitchen as a central hub. These two flow paths may intersect at certain points but must remain distinct and independent from each other to avoid interference. Furthermore, they are constrained by the inherent limitations of the space itself, which can pose additional challenges to their design and implementation.
Especially from the perspective of customers, there are two main criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of traffic flow:
1.Without the assistance of staff, can customers intuitively navigate to the key areas of the restaurant?
2.Regardless of the length of the traffic routes, do customers experience negative emotions such as confusion or disorientation while walking?
These two aspects of evaluation test both the technical proficiency of the design, such as how to plan routes and implement signage to facilitate intuitive guidance, and the innovative aspects of design, such as creating delightful and surprising walking experiences through unique design elements and spatial layouts.
Xiuyu Jade, widely used in traditional Chinese jewelry making, possesses a captivating range of colors between green and blue, along with a warm and smooth texture, and a transparent quality. In our project, we have integrated Xiuyu Jade into the design of door handles and lighting fixtures.The craftsmanship of jade carving, derived from jewelry manufacturing, beautifully complements the exquisite metal structures of MITOO Lighting. We are grateful for this collaboration.
The concept for the door handles draws inspiration from the “huanpei,” a type of jade ornament, evoking a lively visual appeal and a warm touch when held.
Xiuyu Jade lighting fixtures create a well-organized and scattered atmosphere lighting in the macro space. The high-color rendering light bulbs under the base provide essential tabletop illumination for the dining area.
The table lamps come in two sizes and are crafted from solid pieces of jade through precision machining. They are placed in specific areas within the seating areas to provide ambient lighting, creating a cozy atmosphere. Guests can also interact with the lamps by touching and admiring the jade material.
屏风 Screen partition
The ink-colored rattan screens, intricately arranged, create a clear yet transparent barrier, while the jade lighting fixtures, with their unique texture, subtly emerge within them, hinting at the rhythm and order of the seating area. The smooth flow of space, the interplay of void and solid, and the ever-changing scenery are fundamental principles in traditional Chinese ancient gardens. However, incorporating them into an indoor public dining area is a fitting and intriguing choice.
The spatial design of this project is based on simplicity and cleanliness, with plants playing a crucial role in softening the space and infusing it with vitality. In areas illuminated by lighting or candle flames, carefully placed plants create a balanced and harmonious atmosphere. Indoor plants predominantly include small-leaved gardenias and blue-leafed olive trees, occasionally accompanied by a few groupings of cypress bonsai. Outdoor plant selection prioritizes lushness, abundance, and unique shapes.
In the dining space, lighting serves three main purposes:
1.Providing clear and high-color rendering lighting for tabletop dishes, ensuring accurate representation of colors and creating a pleasant environment for diners.
2.Offering well-defined and directional lighting for pathways, guiding visitors without causing glare that may affect spatial hierarchy and visual comfort.
3.Creating the desired ambiance, whether grand and majestic or serene and elegant, each with its unique characteristics.
For this project, we worked closely with Artelds Lighting to develop an ideal lighting scheme. We express our sincere gratitude to Artelds for their invaluable contribution.
The open dark space is beautifully illuminated with rich layers, enhancing the sense of clustering and intimacy in the spatial layout. Chrome-plated frosted mirror panels on the ceiling add a balanced volume and spatial dimension, with gentle diffraction and reflection that harmonize with the dark ambiance.
Through this project, we have designed a complete range of dining table and chair furniture specifically tailored for upscale Chinese dining spaces. Taking into consideration the complex dining habits of Chinese cuisine, the furniture design goes beyond elegance and also focuses on comfort and stability. Ample space is provided on the tabletop for cups and dishes during the dining process. The style and appearance of the furniture exhibit a clear contemporary and universal aesthetic—without being redundant, every curve in the furniture design is meticulously crafted with utmost attention and expertise.
Calligraphy-Since ancient times, calligraphy has been revered for its unique blend of artistic charm and abstract expression.
In this project, we collaborated with renowned calligrapher Xu Jing to create captivating calligraphic works. The character ‘空’ (kōng), representing ’emptiness’ or ‘void,’ takes center stage in the private dining room named Guangchi. In the public area, the characters ‘风’ (fēng), meaning ‘wind,’ and ‘如为何’ (rú wéi hé), meaning ‘how about’ or ‘what if,’ are beautifully showcased. Each of these three pieces exudes elegance and vitality, showcasing the calligrapher’s exquisite skill.
包房 Private room
Taking inspiration from the “Water and Stone” section of the book “Chang Wu Zhi,” eleven names are borrowed: Tian Quan, Liu Shui, Ling Bi, Dan Quan, Guang Chi, Yong Shi, and others. Lead lettering plaques are used as signage within the restaurant.The private room Tian Quan emphasizes privacy and can accommodate 10-12 guests. It is accessed through the water landscape island platform, tucked away in a secluded corner.
The private rooms named “Liu Shui,” “Ling Bi,” and “Dan Quan” emphasize transparency. Each room can accommodate 10-12 guests, and each room has a terrace that integrates with the garden landscape.The vegetation and bridges intertwine, creating a harmonious atmosphere. Tea seats within the garden provide a place for diners to wait before the meal and relax after dining.
The private room, “Guangchi,” offers comprehensive facilities and can comfortably accommodate 16-18 guests for dining. Inside, a set of curved copper long tables provides a space for guests to enjoy pre-meal tea and engage in conversations. Outside the private room, a scenic corridor allows guests to have casual conversations during their dining experience. Adorning the wall is a renowned calligraphy masterpiece—a cursive script of the character “KONG,” symbolizing “emptiness.”
Frequent exposure to something allows us to unconsciously grasp its habits and patterns.
China’s profound emphasis on food and dining is unmatched worldwide, from vibrant street food stalls to elegant dining halls, each with its own unique style and characteristics. Designing the dining environment is of utmost importance as it engages three of the five human senses (sight, smell, and taste). Adopting a “simplification of the essence” design approach, we aim to explore a more abstract and understated possibility within contemporary upscale Chinese dining environments, offering a complete and distinct dining experience.
The construction process of this project coincided with the challenges of the pandemic. We are fortunate and grateful for the unwavering dedication of Exquisite BOCUSE.
项目名称｜放盐 · 晶采轩深圳黑金店
主创设计｜余霖 / DOMANI东仓建设
项目统筹 | 郑敏茵 / DOMANI东仓建设
室内深化｜张锦荣、李炎、王舒洁等 / DOMANI东仓建设
传媒管理｜黎颖欣 / DOMANI东仓建设
Project Name | Salted · Exquisite BOCUSE
Project Location | Shenzhen, China
Area | 1200㎡
Client | Exquisite BOCUSE
Interior Designer | Ann Yu@DOMANI Architcetural Concepts
Project Manager | Eva Zheng@DOMANI Architcetural Concepts
Assistant Designer | Jin Zhang, Lynn Li, Sue Wang@DOMANI Architcetural Concepts
Furniture Fixture & Equipment | A&V Exhibition Concepts
Architecture Construction | Jiangsu Nantong Construction Building Decoration Co.,Ltd.
Material Supplier | Sheungyu Civil Engineering and Architecture, A2STONE, Artelds archirtectural lighting
Public Relation | Emily Li / DOMANI Architcetural Concepts
Photographer | Vincent Wu
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