Icha Chateau, Shanghai

Designed by: Spacemen
For client: Icha Group Floor area: 170.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Restaurant of the Year

Icha 03 Interior Photos 02
© Min Chen Xuan

Soft nature and quivering tactility of the gold chains invite guests to touch them

About the Project

Taking up a refurbished mid-19th century colonial heritage building, a sculpturesque brass cage was integrated into the entry foyer façade of the villa. It houses a new outdoor tea bar behind the angled brass slats that shield it from the midday sun but come night fall, the reflective nature of the brass disappears as light from within the foyer pours outwards. The cage glistens like a golden pot of tea with a custom chain chandelier that reminisce of floating tea leaves hanging above, drawing the casual passer-by to glimpse inwards and into the restaurant.

Contrasting with the exterior which has mostly been left intact due to historic preservation guidelines, the interior has been completely transformed. Entering the main dining area through the bar, patrons transition from the old to the new. Once inside, approximately 35,000 meters of gold chains in 3 different shades make up the undulating sculpture-like planes. Each layer was meticulously carved to mimic the mountainous tea fields and to form niches for patrons with a need for privacy. It also masks a structural column that sits in the middle of the store turning it into the focal point that anchors the gold cloud. The soft nature of the chains allows patrons to touch and feel them. the organic shapes create an ethereal grotto enhanced by the strategically placed mirror behind the banquet seating to invoke a sense spaciousness to the otherwise narrow site.

What’s unique about it

During our research process we were immensely fascinated by the beautiful rolling hills of Icha’s very own tea plantations thus we wanted to pay homage to this natural occurrence in a contemporary and abstract form for the spatial design.
The undulating gold chains not only form the distinctive architectural language but turned constraints of the site into key features of the design.
The semi-transparency of the gold chain-curtains not only offer guests a sense of privacy but also conceals light fittings, sprinklers, ducts and other equipment as well as camouflages a structural pillar that stands inconveniently in the middle of the space, becoming a focal point of the space as it flows from the ceiling down to the floor. While their quivering tactility invite guests to touch and interact with them.
The result is a dream-like space of effortless sophistication that evocatively conjures in the middle of Shanghai the rural beauty of Chinese countryside that suits the nouveau riche customer palette which is the key target market for the upscale tea brand.

Icha 03 Interior Photos 10
© Min Chen Xuan

Semi-transparency of the chains camouflages a structural pillar

Icha 03 Interior Photos 08 2
© Min Chen Xuan

Undulating gold chain-curtains is paired with matte black cabinetry for muted luxuriance

Icha 03 Interior Photos 09
© Min Chen Xuan

Strategically placed mirror behind the banquet seating gives a sense of spaciousness to restaurant

Icha 03 Interior Photos 06
© Min Chen Xuan

Brass lights follow the curvature of the curtains above the banquet seats

Icha 03 Interior Photos 03
© Min Chen Xuan

Applied in 3 golden hues, the curtains create a spatial topography that offers guests privacy

Icha 03 Interior Photos 01
© Min Chen Xuan

35000 meters of gold chains form a series of undulating planes in the main dining area

Icha 02 Night Exterior Photos 05
© Min Chen Xuan

Brass frames are inserted into the existing glazed arches

Icha 02 Night Exterior Photos 02
© Min Chen Xuan

Angled brass slats elegantly framing the glazed arches becoming a dazzling beacon of light

Icha 02 Night Exterior Photos 01
© Min Chen Xuan

Swirling teapot-like brass structure fronts the outdoor bar facade

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