For most modern gastronomes, an enticing dining experience is not only measured by the flavours a restaurant’s cuisine can offer, but also by a captivating atmosphere that brings enjoyment to the eyes and the taste buds.
Design principals, Shirley Dong and Andrea Maira
With this in mind, Shanghai-based design and development practice Studio8 was approached to conceive the mesmerising interiors for Charcohol (a portmanteau of “charcoal” and “alcohol”), a local restaurant and cocktail bar famed for its charcoal-grilled global cuisine and craft cocktails, housed within a heritage building in the Fengsheng Li complex. Scroll through the gallery below (Photography by Sven Zhang ) and embark the delicate journey: In coming up with a concept, the studio’s design principals, Shirley Dong and Andrea Maira, were informed by chef Mandela Zhu that his latest establishment’s offerings “are greatly inspired by forest and fire”, with exceptional taste coming from simple, hand-picked ingredients cooked at exactly the right temperature for exactly the right time. To echo the chef’s vision, the aforementioned culinary philosophy laid the foundation for the dining destination’s atmospheric design, in which charcoal reigns, serving both a vital role in Charcohol’s food creation as well as an axis of time and temperature.
Studio8 reimagined an urban sanctuary for Charcohol Restaurant & Cocktail Bar housed within a historical setting.
A meticulous juxtaposition of materials and colours recreates the transformative process of wood as it turns into charcoal, and eventually ends in the form of ash. This is exemplified by the three dining halls. Preserving the original walls of the building, the first hall is covered in wooden flooring to accentuate the raw beauty of natural materials; the second, the main hall, is a jet-black scene that exudes sombre aesthetics; and the third is a result of whimsy and authenticity where the original brick walls are partially exposed, while the overall setting is lifted up by plastered white-grey walls. Clean lines and serene shades contrast with raw and natural textures for a layered look. “Each dining hall obtains its own particular ambience from partially custom-made furniture, lighting and installations,” explain Shirley and Andrea of their creative approach for the venue. “The wood hall opens up to the main plaza of Fengsheng Li, where sunlight shines through the trees onto the brick walls. The rough texture of the main black hall’s walls and flooring, on the other hand, encourages intriguing light play throughout the day for an ever-evolving ambience."
Above the bar, the cross of the time and the temperature axes, you’ll see a giant installation of fanned palm leaves that hangs underneath the reflective stainless-steel dome."
And along the time axis in the ash area, another installation, made of banana leaves and eucalyptus seeds, mimics a bouquet chandelier to symbolise renewal from ash. For nature lovers, there’s an al fresco seating area where scrumptious baked food is delivered straight from the brick stove and served.” The notion of “rebirth” at Charcohol also represents a respectful celebration of history and culture. Given the historic background of the grand architecture, the creative team has been careful to revive and reignite the space’s former glory in a thoughtful manner – to awe-inspiring effect. Bespoke details and features are added to form a bridge between the old and new structures, while the modern steel and glass additions are deliberately detached from the original building. A wall-washer lighting system has also been installed to enhance the majestic appearance. At Charcohol, everything comes together in perfect harmony.