the feast yan restaurant
Completion Date: Dec 2011
Area: 2,400 sqm
Shenzhen is the experimental ground of China, always at the forefront nudging the boundaries of what defines Chineseness. It only makes sense then that a new F&B typology should arise here, one that takes to an extreme the one essential component of upscale Chinese dining—the Private Dining Room, which composes over two-thirds of Feast restaurant. Neri&Hu’s design for Feast reinvents the concept of privatized dining by constantly blurring the boundaries of public and private. Like a village, each of the PDRs becomes a “house” that is intimate and personal, yet participates in a communal experience with neighboring houses, full of those unexpected encounters, voyeuristic moments and dynamic interactions of village life.
This notion of the village begins with the modest gray brick paving that guides one from the façade signage element* into the double height Reception area, where it crawls up onto the wall surfaces to act as a consistent backdrop throughout the spaces of the restaurant. Upon this, a layer of screens formed by vertical wood louvers start to define the circulation paths, a rhythmic enhancement to the long corridors and organizing element to the more loosely placed PDRs behind. Each of the Private Dining Rooms encapsulates a layered spatial experience, each with its own unique furnishings, lighting, and material palette—guests are able to select their dining environment amongst the many room types.
Inside the wood-clad rooms, the basket weave timber panels envelop on all sides, including the floor, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The lighting here was selected in order to cast dynamic shadows across the opaque surfaces of the room. Playing on solids and voids, the wooden rooms alternate with glass rooms, which are composed of milky green glass, and give a completely different aura. During the day the reflective surfaces mirror the surroundings as if infinitely, while at night, they emit a luscious absinthian glow, giving these rooms a surreal quality. The captured space between the screen and each room consists of viewing gardens artfully curated with designer chairs and custom vases, and while unoccupiable, they offer breathing moments in a rigid formation of PDRs that could otherwise become repetitive.
Taking cues from the restaurant’s name, Neri&Hu’s design is intended as a feast for all the senses, such that the tasting of food is enhanced by the theatricality of the entire dining experience. Contrasting with the enclosed and intimate nature of the PDRs, the Main Dining Room is akin to the town square, a grand double height space which is surrounded by water and delicately wrapped by the same wooden screen element, while 500 hand-blown glass lamps* dance and flutter in the air above the diners. This centrally located space maintains visual connections through strategically cut openings, so that as you pass along the corridors on both levels, your gaze travels across and beyond, as does the light which bounces delightfully throughout. Every opening in the screened layer is carefully crafted; these viewports framed in blackened bronze offer selective glimpses into the rooms behind, and often even further afar to the view outside, creating complex layered spatial conditions that are intentionally provocative.
*Taking full control over the entire dining experience, Neri&Hu’s scope was not limited to the architecture and interiors, but includes the design of furniture and lighting, graphic identity, print materials, signage, tableware, and staff uniforms.