SUBU by Johannes Torpe Studios

| 27 comments

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Danish designer Johannes Torpe has completed work on SUBU, a restaurant in Beijing, China for South Beauty Group.

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The studio designed all aspects of the restaurant including the furniture, tableware and the dining pods.

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The following is from Johannes Torpe Studios:

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Behind the Scene of the SUBU project

SUBU is the new Johannes Torpe designed concept restaurant from South Beauty Group(SBG).

The concept is brand new and will bring SBG into a new era of restaurant design. The first restaurant is located in one of the finest malls in the new financial district of Beijing, and will share location with the finest brands from around the world. Johannes Torpe is designing everything from the glas to the chairs and will here answer some simple questions in this pre-interview to get the idea un-covered.

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How did you meet the client?

Well, it started with a lot of phone and email conversations some one-year ago. And in the beginning we thought; “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with  some dim-sum…” But Xiaofei kept on pushing us to meet and was a very nice guy to talk  to so in the end we succeeded and meet up in Beijing. And the impression from the phone was right, both Xiaofei and his mother Mrs. Zwang are passionate and very serious about  bringing Chinese cuisine to the next level. But the best part is; they are lovely and fantastic fun people to hang out with, and that is most important to us… This gonna be fun!

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What was the brief from the client?

The brief was pretty open, and when you enter a room for the first time, you analyze the room quickly and the first impression lasts. But they also did a fantastic project with Philippe (Starck) in 2006 with great success, so automatically you know that they want something completely different from that. But to cut it easy, they wanted something more of a concept that will stand out completely and open people’s eyes to the max, something with an edge and something that creates an experience in the room.

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What was your answer / concept to the brief? And why?

The answer was clear; we want to look forward and not backwards. We want to create an experience where details are everything, from the food to the tableware, from the lighting to the ambiance, from the music to the uniforms, from the chairs to the toilets. Also we feel that it is important to renew the way guests are served, we are more to a personal level where the waiter steps into character and serve with pride, instead of the classic Chinese  “serving robots”. So our concept is always to have a personal chat with a staff who knows how to serve.

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What is the fun part of this project?

For sure that is the people behind the project, but also to work on a project with such detail and dedication from the people are really great indeed. I think we will have a long time and long distance relationship going on here, haha! Not to forget, it is nice to be the next designer after Starck they make a project with, at least for the ego

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What is the challenging part of this project? And how did you solve it?

The challenge has been the time, not the design. We used 3 weeks from the first meeting until presentation in Beijing, and luckily everybody loved the project. After that we used 4 VERY intensive weeks to make technical drawings of the complete project, that was a very hard nut simply caused by the complex solutions we have chosen all through the project. With an opening date of mid October (2007) we needed to move very fast.

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What exactly did you design or involve in this project?

Just everything.

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What is the most important element that you cared the most (such as, concept, ambient/ sensation, etc) while you were working on different parts of restaurant (costume, table ware, interior, logo, etc) and why?

The whole concept and the complex simplicity of it is important here, so to create the big experience with great details is really making the difference. But most we have cared for the guest experience and the staff’s ease of work, for the guest the experience have to be fantastic each time, and for the staff they should have fun working there.

What is your favorite thing from this project?

That will be the Cocoons, they are the most crazy example on the experience level our guests will get in to, can’t wait to see people’s reactions on them. And I personally look really forward to getting drunk in there, haha.

Shingo Inoue interviewed Johannes Torpe

| 27 comments

Posted on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 at 6:04 am by Rob Ong. See our copyright policy. Before commenting, please read our comments policy.

  • M

    “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with some dim-sum” – can you get more stereotypical then that ?

  • bubbalouie

    “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with some dim-sum…”
    based on this quote i have no respect for this guy. one of the most arrogant/ uninformed statements i’ve heard in a long time…

  • ahtong

    Bubbalouie, calm down, it was just a laughable comment from a stereotypical loser who doesn’t even have courage to type his full name…

  • http://delessard.blogspot.com/ jean de lessard

    really nice concept. bravo to the client and bravo to you guys. 7 weeks to deliver it from the start… wow.

    how many guys works on the drawings?

  • pei qing

    “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with some dim-sum…”

    After this stupid and careless remark, I seriously doubt Johannes Torpe will get any more commissions from China. We Chinese are very proud and united people and will always remember foreigners who scorn upon us.

  • Danniella

    Is he out of his mind by uttering this nonsense, or just plain stupidity ?!

    SUBU will be in great jeapardy as when this stupid remark of his reach the Chinese netizens which will be very soon, it is very likely that this will be be blown out of proportion and there’ll be mass boycott this restaurant. What a bad choice by Xiao Fei & his mum to pick him as the designer. Even the great Philippe Starck has more humility.

  • Post

    i don’t find “the remark” so rude, just true … wouldn’t be the first time that this happens, look at the Da-Yang-Fang metro station in Beijing by netzwerkarchitekten. They won a competition in 2004, didn’t hear anything about it afterwards – and found their completed work by accident on google earth … they got no credits, no money, no nothing …
    might have happened only once – but still a remark like the one from Johannes Torpe just reflects reality!

  • post-er

    @post
    Rip off and copying is not simply a Chinese thing. I can tell you stories from western clients, which would make you blush.

  • Benji

    Wow, some touchy people on dezeen these days… you’d think that citizens of one of the largest and richest countries in the world would be a little more self-confident.

  • daniele

    Very very similar to Zaha Hadid’s future home in beijing I would say…

  • Sandor

    People (reacting above) clearly don’t work in an architecture office, or they have no clue on what is happening in the office they work in. It is absolutely a must to be carefull when you get calls like that. The example that Post gives is indeed a very well known plan where it went wrong, and no, it’s not just happening in China.

    And it is actually a nice thing of Johannse Torpe to put it into words like this. Every office would have that same first idea! He just wants to show that this thought isn’t always right.

  • Post

    @ post-er
    your right, I also know such stories, happens world wide I guess .. I just referred to China with this specific example.

  • post-er

    @Sandor
    The client is usually not the enemy. It might happen, that he wants to abuse you BUT it is an exception. And I agree with you on this: if you deal with multi million dollar deals you should be careful and investigate in advance the client as well as he will investigate you. And their lawyers are worse anywhere but the emerging countries…

  • http://www.winifredwikkeling.com Royal Creme

    It is always a little bit sad when someone is unable to think outside of themselves. Of course abuse and deception happen, but it seems just slightly disrespectful of your client to make such a statement in a public forum. Surely Johannes could have been more delicate in addressing his skepticism. It makes me unable to focus on his work as my enthusiasm was diminished half way.

  • Son of Bozo

    Pequing,

    Of course your united. You dont have a choice.

  • Ioseb

    small thinking

  • AA

    i don’t think i will have a good appetite in the restaurant.

  • AA

    M Says:

    March 28th, 2009 at 12:49 pm
    “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with some dim-sum”

    i want say to this gay. copy yours? who you are and what is the chinese copy your ideas? if you are so acumen you are afraid about it>? and i don’t think you are the one who have the high IQ than me.

  • TeeDee

    Johannes is actually honest in daring to mention what a lot of creative individuals and companies are aware of and cautious about. By putting aside this stereotypical image it turned out the opposite and thereby creating increased interest amongst designers and architects to work with Chinese clients!

    Amazing result in such a short time frame.

  • http://www.hi.com Prof:ZUY

    looks really cheap

  • Fischer

    “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with some dim-sum…”

    Stupid comments!

    agree with daniele Says:

    March 30th, 2009 at 7:21 am
    Very very similar to Zaha Hadid’s future home in beijing I would say…

    You are real copy guy! and your design looks really shit to be honest!

  • Paul

    Honestly people, i think you are really missing the point here, this interview really reflects pure honestly and that his first thoughts might be wrong. I think that it reflects what many western people fear, but don’t dear to say!
    Just read this once more:::

    “Well, it started with a lot of phone and email conversations some one-year ago. And in the beginning we thought; “China, naah they will just copy our ideas and feed us off with some dim-sum…”(Sounds like first thoughts) But Xiaofei kept on pushing us to meet and was a very nice guy to talk to (He was positive surprised) so in the end we succeeded and meet up in Beijing. And the impression from the phone was right, both Xiaofei and his mother Mrs. Zwang are passionate and very serious about bringing Chinese cuisine to the next level. (Sounds like he get really positively surprised…) But the best part is; they are lovely and fantastic fun people to hang out with, and that is most important to us… (I would call that a complete dedication to the client, i wish i felt like that with ours…)

    I have seen this guys work in different magazines and all the interviews are really honest, if you work with big clients like he do, i think you need to say what you feel and people can like it or not.
    Trough my work on a very big project before the Olympics, i have been in the restaurant SUBU, the food is good, the service is ok. The design looks really fantastic, the ideas and the vision are great, but you can see that the construction quality is not as desired. A shame for such a great project.

    I think you should all consider that honestly and humor is needed to create something big.

    Paul

  • Paul

    BTW. Just to correct you on one thing, as i recall, Zara Hadids future home in Beijing was created after this place.

  • http://xxxx.com x

    Paul Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 10:36 pm
    BTW. Just to correct you on one thing, as i recall, Zara Hadids future home in Beijing was created after this place.

    BTW just to correct you on one thing, as i recall. its ZAHA Hadid…..bucko

  • http://www.2pm.com Robert

    My good a hard tone you guys are having in here!

    Thorpe is being ironic here, and really honest.

    This project ist truly wonderful and inspiering, and Thorpe studios are as i know very popular in China doing great projetcs.
    R.

  • Paul

    Sorry “X” you are right, my typing mistake.
    But; My god, you have a small mind. And you should really work with your bitterness with a proffessional…

  • JJ

    I love this restaurant design – it would be a real experience dining here. I’d love to check it out if i’m ever in Beijing.
    Honestly, it’s great reading an interview where the designer is truthful about how he felt rather than just throwing up a bunch of buzz words.
    JJ