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The brief was to create a modern atmosphere for a classic steak frites brasserie focusing on simple but high quality offers – the rib eye steak, fries and green salad. As the flagship for a brand intended to be rolled out across malls in China, it required exemplary design and execution. Kokaistudios’s overall approach was to create an open and friendly environment that mimics an urban warehouse, a concept that differentiates itself from enclosed restaurants and open food courts commonly found in shopping malls in primary Asian cities.
The Cut is split over two floors at the roof level of IAPM, providing a mixture of standard and communal seating ideal for both small or large groups. The lower floor holds the main entrance, the kitchen, a dining area and a salad bar while the upper floor has a secondary dining space, a lounge bar and a terrace with prime views overlooking Xiangyang Park and Jing’an district. Other than high tables for alfresco dining, a wooden platform was built onto the existing steps on the terrace to turn it into a casual and relaxed seating area.
The layout of the main restaurant floor is essentially a sharp, diagonal cut through the irregular retail unit to separate the kitchen from the dining space. Designed as a strong surface in architectural terms, the kitchen looks like a roughly cut cube hewn from the heart of the restaurant floor, supported only by the metal structures from the ceiling. The brightly lit kitchen, visible through rectangular windows cut into the cube, contrasts bluntly with the warmly lit environment outside.
Natural and rustic materials are heavily used in the restaurant, for instance the recycled wood food counter, metal mesh, exposed brick wall, stone mosaic floor, open metal ceiling and cement plaster. All the wheel mounted tables and mobile serving stations are custom designed and they amplify the unpolished interiors whilst chairs and cushions in bold colours juxtapose playfully with the environment. Columns second as menu holders as a rail is installed on each to hang clipboard menus. Another key design approach by Kokaistudios is the blending of retail and F&B as an integrated experience. Hence, the space is embellished with eye-catching graphics and objects, like a cow carcass hanging from the ceiling at the storefront, extremely bright neon signs, a large back-lit logo and framed artworks hanging on the wall.
At a glance, the space may look very simple in execution, but The Cut is in fact a special project that breaks the mould of F&B outlets in shopping malls. Its open and unassuming design, assisted by comfortable lighting from pendant lamps and large windows, makes it a welcoming and embracing destination at the top of IAPM. It is a human-scaled and tactile restaurant, a neighbourhood bistro where you go to meet your friends and have a personable relationship with the staff. It is a place that encourages people to meet, have a good meal, stay and relax, rather than eat and leave in a rush as per the clinical environments of contemporary fast food outlets.
Essentially, Kokaistudios created a strong environment for The Cut in which brand values of openness and nourishing food are communicated, and its vision to be a social place is fulfilled. The studio’s European background, its strength in contextualising projects and devotion to public benefits certainly helped them in the development of this innovative project. As people gather and interact with one another, The Cut becomes a social hub of activity for a new generation of diners that seek more in a restaurant than just the basics.
The Cut’s advanced mix of functions, layout and brand development demonstrate a new genre of F&B outlet that is an antithesis to the conventional, bright mall environment. Achieved by a combination of amazing food, a convivial ambience and stimulating decor, the flagship at IAPM is set to be the benchmark for many more to come.
Location: Shanghai, China
Chief Architect: Andrea Destefanis, Filippo Gabbiani
Interior Design Manager: Michelle Shao
Design Team: Caddie Qu
Client: VOL Group
Completed: May, 2014
Size: 760 sq.m
Photographer: Charlie Xia