Versatility And Chinese Sensibility
d+a|Issue 118
The challenge of juggling a unique experience with maximising operational space was overcome at the chinese national restaurant through hidden panels and eye-catching design elements.
Praise Poh

Located on the seventh floor of Swissotel Jakarta, The Chinese National is definitely not your typical Chinese restaurant.

Firstly, it offers diners not one, but four distinctive dining destinations.

Drawing inspiration from China’s four great inventions of papermaking, printing, gunpowder and the compass, the team at EDG Design transformed the space into a tea house by day and cocktail bar by night (Letterpress); a dumpling and noodle shop (Iron Needle); a Szechuan restaurant (Black Powder Red); and a luxury Cantonese roast duck venue (Paper Duck).

“It was vital that The Chinese National was positioned as an upscale F&B destination, with a freestanding restaurant spirit, despite being located within the hotel,” says Michael Goodman, Partner and Managing Director at EDG Design.

“Aside from ensuring that we utilised the space in a clever way that meant that while the venue as a whole was able to accommodate all guests over breakfast, it was also critical that these specialty venues didn’t compete with each other.

“Beyond interior design, we had to consider the strategic approach as well... We knew that one restaurant would never fill that many seats the rest of the day, but there was a huge demand for food in general.

“From there it was logical to create four different venues that spoke to four different types of guests and price points.”

DESIGNING FOR FLEXIBILITY

As The Chinese National also functions as the breakfast venue for hotel guests, one of the challenges faced was ensuring the linear metres used to display food during the breakfast service were not visible when not in use at other meal times.

Goodman and his team employed two main tactics to overcome this.

First, all counters were designed to double as kitchen passes after breakfast.

Second, they created vertical buffets that would stack two and three shelves on top of each other.

Those would sit inside refrigerated cabinetry or behind sliding panels, which would close after the breakfast service, becoming an unrecognisable part of the décor.

These hidden panels also help to facilitate the smooth transition and transformation between the breakfast, daytime and nighttime offerings.

Another hurdle the team had to overcome was getting four distinctive venues to speak a common language.

“We knew we wanted to marry vintage with Chinese sensibility, striking a delicate balance between Art Deco and industrial, formal and casual.

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