How emotion is shaping Asia's dining spaces

category - customer experience
sector - food & drink
type - big idea
Big Idea
category - china
A new generation of Chinese eateries are using colour, texture, plants and lighting to inspire particular moods among diners

A post-modernist dessert bar

Egg tarts, milk pudding and tang yuan are just some of the traditional desserts found in Hong Kong. Eat Darling Eat aims to overturn the norm – in terms of both flavour and presentation – and is transforming these beige treats into vibrant delicacies. The resulting menu includes dishes such as Sichuan pepper ice cream with candied bacon, and papaya soup with snow fungus.

It is Eat Darling Eat’s physical space, however, that amplifies the playful, experimental mood. Taking cues from retro Cantonese dessert bars, its interior combines polished concrete walls and floors with pastel and neon hues. Bar seating mimics the shape of sugary ring doughnuts, while coloured glass and tiling are reminiscent of the Memphis Group. ‘We wanted to create a provocative setting that would mirror the imaginative and experimental desserts,’ says architect Nelson Chow. ‘A post-modernist desserts laboratory provides the perfect backdrop.’

Published by:

19 November 2019

Author: Kathryn Bishop

Image: Doko Bar by Waterfrom Design, Shenzhen


Eat Darling Eat, Hong Kong

Making a spectacle of eating

Another dessert bar, Doko, takes inspiration from the show-and-tell nature of social media to turn the eating experience into a performance of which visitors are part.

Positioning eating as a slower, more considered process, the studio behind the space – Waterfrom – has created a series of scenes and stages in which diners take part, from the entrance to ordering to the preparation of their chosen dessert. To create the stage-like setting, Waterfrom has used glass, metal mesh, galvanised sheet metal and nylon threads to varying effects, creating an interplay between transparent, semi-transparent and opaque textures.

Some spaces are private, using soft furnishing and hues of red to contrast the steel tones, while other areas frame diners as they eat in the style of a social media post to make them feel like part of a dining display.

Space for mindful mealtimes

Counteracting the hectic nature of urban living is Green Option Food Court, a dining space comprising a café, restaurant and bakery in central Beijing. What looks initially like a fairly simple space is a carefully curated eatery housed in a wellness complex, complete with spa and yoga centre. Designed by Ramoprimo, the space incorporates particular textures as a remedy to Beijing’s bustling lunchtimes, when consumption becomes a rushed sport with little attention paid to the enjoyment of eating or respite from work.

Green Option’s curved metallic walls and soft, halo lighting create the sensation of being embraced by the space, contrasted by cushioned, square seating in toned-down hues of camomile yellow, sage green and teal. Natural wood shelving and plants placed throughout the interior bring the outdoors inside. Elsewhere, tiered seating reduces the formality of the environment and allows for more relaxed and mindful social interactions between diners.


'Platforms and benches are able to satisfy the needs of younger Chinese customers to relax and have tea while chatting with friends.'

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