Dezeen Magazine

SUBU by Johannes Torpe Studios

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


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


The following is from Johannes Torpe Studios:


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


What exactly did you design or involve in this project?

Just everything.


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