When Solutions Leisure wanted to launch a new Asian themed restaurant, they turned to Broadway Interiors who fused many cultures into one space.
Solutions Leisure, the operating company behind such places as Dubai’s Q43 and Karma Kafé with partners Horizon Hospitality, have jumped into the leisure and entertainment sector once again to deliver a new Asian-inspired lounge called Asia Asia, located in the Pier 7 tower in Dubai Marina.
Freek Teusink, creative director, Solutions Leisure, explains: “There’s a nightclub in Melbourne called Spice Market that really has a good appeal to it, and we know the guys. So we spoke to them and said, ‘okay, let’s do the design together and get the inspiration together. Then one of the partners, Jeremy came over.
Their nightclub is inspired by the spice world, so we wanted to make a restaurant-lounge-bar, because we also own Karma Kafé and have a great head chef whose knowledge we can use and have a really great Asian concept tied in with the Spice Market concept.”
Asia Asia provides a menu that centres on the region’s most delicious delicacies, and it also maintains a theme inspired by a pan-Asia concept.
Designed by Broadway Interiors, Asia Asia takes its initial inspiration from Melbourne’s Spice Market, however it goes even further with the Oriental vibe and creates a new direction.
Chris Barnes, managing director, Broadway Interiors, notes: “The whole concept is a fusion of Asian culture, from near Asia to far Asia and everywhere in-between…Most restaurants that are themed Asian venues focus on one country and we thought let’s try and embrace the whole Asian culture and bring it together in one location.
Hence the reason you have this eclectic mix of different elements brought together in different zones of the venue.”
Upon entering Asia Asia, one steps out of the elevator into the reception area which is marked by massive Foo Dog marble sculptures, dozens of monk statues holding candles to the front and a corridor to the left lined by feminine figures placed intermittently through to the main dining area. The lighting is intimate and immediately emits a mysterious vibe.
Just past the curved corridor are various main dining areas. To the right is the Shanghai Lounge, illustrated through the use of red and orange hues, and carpeting that display simple geometric patterns.
The columns which mark the entrance of the Shanghai Lounge boast studded panelling and were inspired by the armour worn by Samurai soldiers. Beyond the Shanghai Lounge is the bar area, a main dining area that wraps around toward the windows on the left, four smaller private dining zones as well as one large private dining room.
About the large private dining room, Barnes notes: “This seating area was inspired by a rice bowl. Hayley [Jensen, head of design, Broadway Interiors] came up with the idea. Spin a rice bowl upside down and you can transform it into a dome.
“In terms of all the artefacts, they were sourced from a shopping trip to the far east. So all the paraphernalia throughout the whole restaurant has been imported. All of them are original, high-end products. Like the Foo Dogs, for example, that are in the entrance near the elevators. They are hand-carved, 1.5 tons each and made of solid marble. And you also have the Chow Gong, which came from Thailand and is hung on the wall behind the bar.
We ring it when something special is happening in the bar. So there are many different special artefacts that are passed around the restaurant.”
In addition to the visual features which combine together to leave lasting impressions on visitors, are the audio elements. Throughout the corridor, the tinkling of bells will be heard coming from the soffits. According to Barnes and Teusink, this element will help create a more tranquil experience for those visiting the lounge.
Among the many visual features, a favourite of CID’s is the bright fuchsia fabric used on the seating in the main dining area just across the bar. While much of the restaurant maintains a dark palette of browns, reds, coppers and blacks, the bright fuchsia chairs pop out and serve as fresh visual treats. Other visual elements that must be noted are the different light fixtures throughout.
In the main dining area are dozens of copper bird cages hanging from the ceiling. Barnes explains: “The bird cages are one of those things that we’ve seen in many Asian cities in the older parts of the cities where they used to use them not only for pets, but also to monitor the gas levels in the mines.”
The dining area opposite the bar also houses four distinct private dining tables, each one designed slightly differently and named after different Asian cities. Distinguishing one private room from the next are wooden screens that display Oriental-inspired patterns.
The main dining area wraps around towards the second half where the main wall consists of floor to ceiling windows, providing an exceptional view of the marina. In this zone, the lighting fixtures that hang from above are white designs that evoke the sense of Chinese fans.
Throughout the entire space though, in addition to the original artefacts sourced from the design team’s travels, are furniture designs designed entirely by Broadway Interiors. The seats and tables were inspired by bird cages and change in length and width, but ultimately remain part of the same family of furniture.
Elaine Marie Gan, senior designer, Broadway Interiors explains: “There were a lot of challenges because we don’t want to be planning a space of a straight forward restaurant, we want it to be more of an experience when people come in. If you see it, we made the entrance into a tunnel and then when you enter, you see the different types of areas. We want it to be unique in its own way.”
Barnes nodded in agreement concluding: “As a design challenge that was really it. Creating an experience rather than a venue. It’s nice to make a venue, but it’s fantastic to make an experience.
“That was what we tried to do as well as provide the operator with a flexible, functional space that will be used in different ways. Things can be moved around and organically changed driven by market requirements.”