Hong Kong McDonald's pilots "an experiment in non-design"


Concrete tables and atmospheric lighting feature inside this Hong Kong branch of McDonald's, designed by branding consultancy Landini Associates as an alternative to bright and colourful fast-food restaurants (+ slideshow).

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

Described by the Sydney studio as "an experiment in non-design", the neutral tones of the McDonald's at Hong Kong's Admiralty station are intended to provide a more comfortable setting for customers.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

"The colourful graphic environments that became the signature for McDonald's internationally, are now replaced with a simpler, quieter and more classic approach," explained Landini Associates.

"The intention is to hero the food, the service and the people who come to enjoy it, and to create a 'recognisable neutrality' that allows this to happen," it said.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

The redesign includes the restaurant interior and kitchen layout, wall graphics, product packaging and staff uniforms.

Non Design McDonald's by Landini Associates

The biggest change is the shift from a closed kitchen to an exposed cooking area. Customers are able to watch the entire process of food preparation, including the grilling of the meat and the assembling of the burgers.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

Very few areas are concealed from customers, but those that need to be are screened behind a wall of precast concrete panels.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

Customers can either order their food at a standard counter, at a computerised kiosk, or at the table. There is also a cold service bar for salads, deserts and drinks.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

Tables feature surfaces of concrete, zinc and oak – described by the design team as a "palette of Miesian simplicity". Some are more suited to families, while others are designed for either groups or individuals.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

A computerised lighting scheme changes the brightness of the space at different times.

"This calmer, more intimate solution delivers a relaxed nighttime experience for the diners and a sharper quicker one for the day," said Landini Associates.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

The firm is now working on adaptions to the design to suit branches in Australia, China, Singapore and elsewhere in Hong Kong.

Non Design McDonald’s by Landini Associates

This isn't the first time McDonald's has turned to a designer to overhaul its restaurants. Patrick Norguet was brought in to rethink the look of branches across France, while Mei Architects recently completed a golden restaurant in Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, Burger King opened a garden-inspired restaurant in Singapore in 2011.

Photography is by Ross Honeysett.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Bright and colourful isn’t the issue. LOUD is the issue, and I don’t see anything here that helps.

  • Adam

    Ba da ba ba baa…. I’m not lovin’ it. :(

  • The Liberty Disciple

    The goal isn’t to mimic Chipotle, it’s to offer a superior product for the price. Wendy’s has slowly been going through this transition, which has broadened their customer base. McDonald’s has flattened as it begins to shrink. Drastic design changes will only fuel the drop.

    • pom

      Do you realise a majority of readers are not American and do not know what Chipotle or Wendy’s is? So what you refer to is only applicable to the U.S and does not apply to the greater part of the world.

      • Hugo

        Don’t be silly. Of course they don’t. They’re American.

      • Vigarano

        If only it were true that only Americans know what Wendy’s is, but citizens of 30 countries can buy a Wendy’s burger. Although McDonald’s pioneered fast food globalism, many other companies have followed…

      • The Liberty Disciple

        Completely understand. I’ll try to use more global analogies, even though all three are US-based international companies that have multiple locations in the UK.

        Regardless of the country you reside in, many global fast-food companies are struggling with a branding image. A design is best achieved when the goal is to create timelessness. In fast food, it creates stability and permanence. You want your image to transcend the trends of the day, and be timeless in expressing the mantra of your company.

        Working toward being the most trendy is the downward spiral of McDonald’s. It erodes confidence in the company and disrupts the brand. I think experiments like this are the result of marketing missing their message. That’s why Chipotle, which changes its image with current trends in eating instead of adjusting the menu and marketing, is the wrong approach.

        This would be like Ikea deciding that its mission to create low-cost, flat-pack furniture isn’t trendy, so they give the brand a makeover, losing their unique identity and sense of company history. Don’t destroy your company culture. It’s the death knell of your brand.

      • vonbraun

        You sound like a cynic.

      • vonbraun

        Do you realise that Chipotle and Wendy’s are in more countries than you have ever visited, or ever will.

  • Rotten Ronnie

    Where’s the giant Hamburglar with a slide coming out of his mouth?

  • concerned internet user

    Design should be honest and represent the system that it houses. You can’t polish a turd.

    • polopoint

      Is that a description of your post?

  • Sim

    God that’s depressing. Now you’re not just eating food that is bad for you, but you are doing it in a soul-depleting space.

  • Beast

    McDonald’s, rather than trying to pander/please its haters, should go back – waaay back – to its founding and the way things used to be when they first opened as a local brand.

    The food should get greasier, cheesier, bigger and slower. Rather than trying to pretend they’re suddenly for the modern liberal man seems forced and unnatural to a fast-food chain. They should be refocusing on the traditional American family and screw the modern-era opposition.

  • George Giannikopoulos

    Have a look at “Goody’s Burger House” design identity. The Greek brand is the major cause of McDonald’s failure to become the leader in the Greek market since their launch in the late 90s.

  • Archi-Nerd

    I like it. You don’t have to feel ashamed or immature eating at this location. Now you’re fresh and trendy “with a soda on the side”.

  • Stephen

    I thought that McDonald’s had already gone through such a change? They certainly moved away from the get-them-in-and-out-as-quickly-as-possible styling and more inline with the contemporary coffee shops within the UK.

    You can change the surroundings as much as you like, but as long as the product they offer remains the same or is perceived to be the same then sales will continue to full.

  • The_Pinchhitter

    Great interior! Too bad the client sells poisonous food.

  • Marsellus W.

    A family restaurant, only if the family in question is the Adams Family.

  • Eme

    “Non-design” also reads as cheap cynicism.

  • enochrox

    I like it.

  • Brennan Murray

    I actually like the interior. At least your eyes get a break and can rest from the circus colours of “clown-nose red” and “golden-arches yellow” while the food is assaulting your body.

  • Frank

    On the whole, I think it’s a step in the right direction. Further ideations of this will resolve some of the less successful initiatives. I would love to have had the lighting contract; it looks to have been way over-clubbed.