Walnut columns and blackened wood screens recall the architecture of China’s Golden Age at this atmospheric restaurant in Shantou designed by local interior studio JG Phoenix.
Founded by three friends, the restaurant is called Sui Han San You or Three friends of winter after a Chinese expression that refers to pine, bamboo and plum blossom.
The 1200 square meter dimly lit restaurant was designed around this motif, often used in traditional art to signify resilience based on the ability of plants to thrive even in the colder months.
Wood is generously present throughout the space, forming slatted walls, screens and furniture reminiscent of the architecture of the Tang Dynasty – a period at the end of the first millennium considered to be the golden age of the Chinese art and culture.
“The architecture of the Tang Dynasty was characterized by the perfect integration of strength and beauty, as well as a balance between rigor and magnificence,” explained JG Phoenix.
“Such features were incorporated into the design of the passageways, where walnut columns were neatly arranged on the sides and connected to the ceiling.”
Dark wood is paired with ‘austere materials’ such as light gray stone bricks and brass to create a sense of balance in the space.
Guests enter the restaurant through a sloping hallway with a water basin running its entire length, which leads to the reception.
This is intended to evoke a traditional Chinese garden and to create “a sense of ritual and mystery”.
A walnut column rises out of the water, stretching to the ceiling through a geometric reception desk. Large wooden screens envelop the space, separating the entrance, hall and stairwell.
A Tang-style desk and bookcase furnish the lobby while a falling wood ceiling helps create a more intimate space.
VIP rooms feature walnut columns with brass trim and walls finished in walnut paneling, light gray stone bricks, and floor-to-ceiling murals.
“Such designs produce a tranquil, peaceful and superior dining atmosphere that accurately interprets the essence of the Tang style,” explained JG Phoenix.
Founded in 2008, the studio has completed various other projects in Shantou, including a painting showroom inspired by the ancient concept of yin and yang and a fish bladder museum with shiny floors, rough sawn wood and diffused natural light.