Our job is to design a Chinese Baijiu Bar for the hip, young and fashionable. Chinese baijiu, a strong distilled spirit, is perceived to be for an older demographic, dated, boring and old fashioned. This is an exciting opportunity for us to reinvent the category, in terms of how chinese cultural elements can be interpreted in a fresh manner, yet respectful of its classic historical context. The name En Vain, French for ‘in vain’, is a direct reference to this playful attitude of how to interpret culture, from food and drinks, all the way through to design. In vain, for pairing baijiu with food, Chinese with western influences. In vain, for we are merely having fun excavating and reinventing Chinese wine culture. In vain, for we are but a part of this process, one of many, not first nor last.

Baijiu Bar is a Chinese product in essence, Western in experiential retail expression. Any experiment of this nature, especially in Beijing the political and cultural capital of China, needs to be respectful of traditional culture, yet re-interpreted in a meaningful manner to attract a consumer base obsessed with the cutting erg and trendy. That said, we decided to be light-hearted in this play of culture and design. We are part of this process of defining what is Modern Chinese and seek not to imitate the past, we prospect deeply the underlying spirit, but the design new and unencumbered.

Communication Design

Concept 1

This series takes reference from chinese calligraphy. We wanted to express the fluidity of brush strokes but drawn in 3D. The blue is a tint found in colored chinese ink paintings, with a logo variant that looks like a chinese seal.















Concept 2

For this series we chose to use textures inspired by traditional chinese drinking vessels. In ancient times, different dynasties use different cups for variousoccasions. We selected these 3 for their prominence,  visual richness, and relevance to the sensorial allusion of the characters

Operation / Flow / Interaction

The overall experience is a layered one. At first glance a bar, with Chinese elements, housed in an industrial language, with contemporary detailing. On Closer inspection, disruptive play of traditional elements, modern execution of traditional tropes, a recurring graphic motif that is western yet Chinese in different forms from the logo, to coasters, to wallpaper, screens, and paintings hung on the wall.

Production / Realization Technology

All aspects of the interior space was designed by us. From the branding, graphic motif which is then used in the creens, wallpaper and cushions, the interior design, lighting, ceiling installation. The furniture was also custom made, with chinese jointing details especially in the bar tables. The paintings were rendered using 3D software and printed on calligraphic paper and oil painting canvas. Soft furnishing designed include signage, cushions, coasters, name cards, postcards. In the disruptive use of traditional elements, we used windows found in traditional chinese houses to form the key celling installation. We hung tables upside down to house down lights. We created what could possibly be the first 3D rendered calligraphic paintings, inspired by the 3 fragrances of Baijiu. The screen in the foyer was laser cut from steel using the graphic motif in the branding design.

Honors & Awards for this project:

Silver Award for Interior Space & Exhibition Design, En Vain Baijiu Bar – A' Design Award (Italy) [April 2016]

Professional Interior: Best Restaurant for En Vain Baijiu Bar – A&D Architecture & Design Trophy Award (Hong Kong) [November 2016]

Branding Professional, Winner for En Vain Baijiu Bar – HiiiBrand 2016 (Hong Kong) [September 2016]

Interior Design: Retail/Restaurant, En Vain Baijiu Bar – AAP American Architecture Prize 2016 (USA) [November 2016]

Team Members:

Wei Lin, Junhao Tang, Jacopo Saleri, Yang Gao and Anfia Lin

Photo Credits

Shawn Koh (Feng Studios)