Viet Hoa Cafe by Vonsung


London studio Vonsung have completed the interior of a Vietnamese cafe in Shoreditch, London.

Called Viet Hoa Cafe, it's walls, floors and ceilings are clad in oak, with the walls covered in black lacquered strips.

Doors to storage and bathrooms blend into this surface but are marked with handles.

Seating is mainly arranged around a nine metre-long table.

A bar downstairs, also designed by Vonsung, is due to open in February 2010.

Here's some text from the designers:


VIET HOA CAFE: Completed 5th December 2009

Situated in the heart of a conservation area, Viet Hoa Cafe is the first Vietnamese restaurant established (est. 1995) on Kingsland Road, London, E1. Since then, Vietnamese restaurants have been flourishing on the same road to create a mini "Little Saigon", but none of which boast aesthetic accolade compared to the upscale Thai or Chinese restaurants.

The area of (East London) Shoreditch has been growing and expanding for the last few years and as a result, the clientele is demanding a lot more service and quality vis-a-vis West-end London restaurants.

When we sat down with the client in August 2009, I was not alone in wanting to resist the endless march for efficiency in place of dining and basically, human interaction.

People are wonderfully chaotic, messy, unorganized, complicated creatures and as one of them, I was not convinced breadth of design choice is what we needed right now.

I felt that the restaurants' or shopping centers' customers are constantly being shunted into a carefully shaped box that we don't fit perfectly. When we researched Vietnam and its culture in general, we were pleasantly surprised to see less chaotic stock and more people in their atmospheric surrounding.

Thus we started with the brief of 'less is more' to become the design mantra as we craved simplicity and added individuality to the restaurant's main focus.

Discovering that the building's structure was strong enough to support heavy materials, we decided to construct the entire restaurant's floors, walls and ceilings with solid, thick European oak planks. The oak wood scent every corner of the restaurant and the floors and walls are smooth and inviting to the touch.

The floors and walls are made of 4 meter long pieces that stop one-inch short of the purpose-built acoustic ceilings to create lateral openings across the top of the West side of the restaurant made of lacquered black wood strips. The gap is to show how the restaurant breathes - the heating and air conditioning are channelled through the strips and it makes the restaurant feel longer and higher.

To maintain the infinity of the space using the strips, Joseph Sung (Creative Director of VONSUNG) avoided revealing the surfaces whenever possible. Storage area and even the toilets disappear into the walls only to be opened by a hidden door handle. The entrance to the restaurant has been positioned out of view, eliminating the need for additional second entrance door.

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The main task was to uniformly unify the space in terms of color and materials - as we set about to acquiring furniture that would have an impact. The palette was earthy and neutral yet structured with distinct lines, like sculptures, are references to Vietnam's surrounding water and sky. The furniture finishes amplify the straight lines of the restaurant's wood and strip panelling. My design sensibility were formed in the 1980s, and many of my inspiration comes from that period - 'Power Dressing'. The main feature of the restaurant is the 9 meter-long center table which houses the King & Queen chair underneath the David Chipperfield chandelier.

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Intimacy was achieved by focusing on the smallest details and by trying to surprise and delight guests - by way of branding designs. We developed the new identity by creating the HOA - 'blossoming flower' in Vietnamese - these intimate Hoa logo mark can be found in all way-finding, branding collateral, packaging and uniforms. We hope to continue the design acumen to the Viet Hoa Bar downstairs scheduled to complete in February 2010. A notion of creative individuality will be approached to color which will transform this quiet Vietnamese restaurant and bar into a feast for the eyes.

Posted on Sunday January 3rd 2010 at 2:14 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Funny, my first impression about the global aspect of this interior design looks like an internal school with a severe authority, it looks quasi-military!

    Francois Beydoun

  • alex

    Agree with Francois. I think the chairs reinforce the military look as they were originally designed for the US Navy.

  • W

    Interior is good but its not what people are looking for – decent asian food, cozy atmosphere and a cheap meal i.e Gourmet San in Bethnal grn rd

  • claudem

    military camp canteen

  • W

    Q .Why the choice of US military chairs ?

  • Michelle

    No need for any signage? Exits, emergency, restrooms?

    Aesthetic is a bit sinister.

  • K

    you can’t take your own wine anymore!

  • it’s the Emeco Aluminium Chair by Ettore Sottsass….it’s the fist time i read Sottsass design is military look …. Funny? but the link with US military furniture and vietnam is clear …

  • Robert Bell

    I have to agree with Prof. Z. That is the Emeco Aluminum Chair. If it’s not then it’s a very blatant copy.

  • A

    It was light and spacious though in need of a revamp. It’s now quite sterile despite the wood, it’s cold and VERY VERY noisy. Don’t sit anywhere near the door unless you want to freeze. Badly planned.

    BTW: K, you can still take and drink your own wine if you sit downstairs but don’t expect the usual efficient service!

  • M Spencer

    If I’m not mistaken, the original Navy chair was not designed by Sottsass but rather by an employee at Emeco. Sottsass is responsible for the recent reworking of the chair, released as a separate model.


  • Kajsa Nilsson

    Emeco chairs, look out for their cameo in Avatar……

  • collyn

    Having been, it’s actually quite nice… the photos don’t do it justice… though not sure about the actual quality – some exposed insulation, etc. A nice alternative to the usual bad flat lighting and plastic decor of the usual Kingsland Rd finest… And it seems the food has improved, though the tricks of the mind might be strong in this one. FYI – the prices seem to have stayed the same… so well worth a commendation.

  • Alex
  • R

    Restaurant looks great, but the chairs are copy Emeco.
    The Emeco Navy chair was designed by engineers for WWII US Navy ships and submarines. Ettore Sottsass designed a collection for Emeco called Nine-0, launched in 2008. Check out

  • Michiko Ito

    Emeco or Navy chair, the new revamp definitely has the wow factor as soon as you enter the restaurant. Nothing like what you expect in East London. The East-end creatives have been going there for years but we all knew the establishment needed a facelift. It not only caters for food but also for social R&R occasions rather than hitting the West-end after dinner. Love the unisex toilet!

  • YK

    The photography is very sleek! Their interior design is a matter of taste. I quite like the sterile aspect of the design by restricting the number of materials used. I’ve checked out their (VONSUNG’s) past work and the very “zen” like look is part of their signatory design. Shadow gaps work well on the floors and ceiling.

    Seems also that their branding concept has been well thought-out by juxtaposing high-end interior with approachable cafe-like branding collateral. Very cute logo.

    – YK

  • Moto

    After seeing the photo’s of Viet Hoa Cafe profiled here on Dezeen, I had lunch there today.
    The cafe had a great vibe. I have been waiting for a stylish place like this in my neighborhood. It finally happened and it’s serves my favorite food. The food is fresh and authentic. The staff is ultra friendly and the chairs are surprisingly comfortable. I can’t wait there to go there tomorrow and bring my girlfriend instead of a bottle of my own wine! Embrace the new haute culture of East London, everyone.

  • a

    Went in there last night. Very nice interior and quite cosy despite the empty spaces. Yes it is a bit cold but that because it -4 outside. The place was in need if a good revamp and that’s what it’s had. Good job boys.


  • The Chairs are CO2 chairs designed by Aldo Cibic and manufactured by Biliani. They are beech hardwood chairs, and structurally very different to the Emeco Navy chair. There are copies of the aluminium Navy chair available on the market, but when shown next to the Emeco chair, their ugly, cumbersome and usually cracked welds show the chairs up as cheap pretenders.


  • mimi

    The place looks and feel amazing, i think is much better than before. You can have dinner for cheap and also stays in the place for long time in a confortable and special environment… What else could you expect? And yes, the stools are the co2 but the chairs are the original emeco and both of them match really good.i can not believe that some people loose the time in search the minimun mistake or wrong detail in the place for blow out something that is actually absolutely fine and well done without any doubt.

  • joe

    A well-thought out and very warm interior. It’s the also the ambience filled by the people that will bring this interior to life. Looking forward to eating here soon.

  • Betty

    There is no picture of the front… I don't really this brown color at all… That's why I didn't even go inside! I am bothered straight away. Good to hear they got the same price though, because it looks pricey from outside.

  • Kanz

    …i think they use US Military chairs because when Vietnam in war…this chair is one of chairs appear earliest from Us military….i think it reminisce about the war…about Vietnam…It's memory of the owner….Sorry about my bad English.:(