The original “Tim Ho Wan” restaurant is a Michelin star, street style ‘dim sum’ restaurant in Hong Kong. Located in the gritty district of Mongkok, eating there is not just a culinary experience — it’s a crash course in history, sociology and urbanism all rolled into one.
As one of the most popular, affordable and authentic dim sum eating houses, Tim Ho Wan earned its Michelin star guide listing in 2007 and was subsequently acquired for rapid expansion in the Asia Pacific region.
K2LD was commissioned to envision a new identity for the brand and bring the traditional brand into a contemporary era. We did so by creating a visual DNA, inspired by & infused with a spatial quality reminiscent of the sidewalks and alleyways of Mongkok.
K2LD began researching into the history of the chefs and restaurant and looked into the quintessential culture of ‘Yum Cha’ in Hong Kong.
A nomenclatural investigation into the reasons behind the name of the restaurant led to a discovery of the good omen the name “Tim” suggests, which means ‘adding good luck’ in Chinese. The sound of ‘adding’ – ‘Tim’ in Cantonese is similar to Dim in Dimsum that could suggest a good new direction of the restaurant as it undergoes a new phase of expansion and development. The use of ‘T+’ as a visual monogram contemporises the chinese character 添 ( Tim) into a motif that is celebrated as a surface treatment for the screen, floor and table top.
With equal emphasis, the interior layout was meant to reflect the culture and traditional spatial dimensions of a small and packed Hong Kong eatery.The rows of table seatings create narrow and tight spaces that maintain the community focused and authentic vibe, which splits into spatial zones based on the typical alleyway (3 metres wide) and a shop front (6 metres wide) setting.
The zones open-concept dining zones are differentiated with the use of the ‘T+’ graphics as designed ‘partition’ screens that achieve a spatial contrast between the calm seating zones and the bustling scene of the restaurant.
The interiors are zoned into areas that mimic crowded nooks and bustling alleyways, these serving as the underlying spatial DNA that synthesise the humble roots of the original outlet with a contemporary outlook for a global audience.
This project demonstrates a change in mindset in the approach to design. We took a holistic approach from the inception of the branding that manifested into the design within the interior space.
The resultant graphics from the branding (T+) was used as a design tool to generate various design elements within the interior. From the patterning of the floor tile, to the tectonics of the brick wall and the silk screen of the illuminated glass panels, these were just one of the many few elements in the space that echos the imagery bringing a cohesion to the space that ties to the brand resulting in a distinctive identity for all the subsequent outlets. The material palette was updated and a colour shift was suggested to appeal to the younger generation.
The resultant designs of the collection of outlets comprises of nuances of its history, branding, imagery as well as architecture. With touches of patterning, from the timber walls to pops of colours - green accents in the materials like the leather upholstery, celadon teal ceramic tiles are subtly hued brining in the green tone from the original brand and the modernisation of the space and transformation into a contemporary palette.
A project is truly a stand out in its category when both the designer and the Client work as a team with a common vision. Other than providing a new look for the restaurant, the project provides a platform for the restaurateurs to reveal the kitchen and celebrate the theatrics of dim sum making by the talented chefs.
A design DNA has been put in the place with the understanding of the importance of location and its catchment. Various typologies have been prescribed based on its location - Flagship, City, Heartlands/ Suburban and Kiosk. This minimises the possibility of a cookie cutter prescription, but at the same time leading to economies of scale.
The project echoes the authenticity of the original in Hong Kong but yet, provides a refreshing contemporary take for the new outlets. The materials used as a base palette exemplifies the grittiness and urban texture of the streets it originated from - cement tiles, timber floor, mosaic ; with new timber cladded walls and pops of colour - green accents in the materials like the leather upholstery, celadon teal ceramic tiles are subtly hued from the green in the original brand, was an appeal and a suggestion to a contemporary palette.
The true integration and harmony from branding into design execution, work hand in hand to make the spaces a reflection of the history of the brand while bringing it into the contemporary era.
K2LD is an international practice established in Singapore in 1998 and in Melbourne in 2007.
Our Architectural Design philosophy embraces the Sense and Sensibility of Architecture
The senses mould the intricate relationship between time, light and material to allow spatial freedom that is beautiful in its myriad of expressions. Taming these exciting relationships materializes in an architectural experience. We believe that design emerges from an intensive dialogue with our Clients, a sensitive study of the site and the Client’s brief. We strive to achieve design solutions in line with current developments in architectural technologies and expression, while capturing space and light in tangible form, giving meaning to Architecture.
We are not driven by design “style“. Beauty and freedom is born out of the intensive process of creation and continuous refinement of ideas and structure intimately connected to space, function and context.