Joyce Wang is one of the most exciting and inspirational interior designers to emerge in the last four years in Hong Kong. She has the ability to create stunning spaces that are memorable, and, as can be seen in her latest projects, Isono Eatery & Bar and Vasco, exude the shimmering materials and cinematic grandeur that she is becoming recognised for. Martine Beale writes.
Sister restaurants Isono Eatery & Bar and Vasco are both located in Central’s new darling arts and design hub, PMQ (the former Police Married Quarters along Hollywood Road), and occupy the 6th and 7th floors of B Block respectively.
Isono offers Mediterranean-inspired dishes designed for sharing, and as such, the 120-seat space with four private rooms is set out in open-plan style to convey a casual vibe conducive to communal dining.
Wang employs a wonderful mix of materials in this high-ceiling eatery. Warmth is provided by a dark sultry timber wall finish, which is balanced against the light and airy private rooms on both sides of the restaurant, wooden tables and chairs, and floors tiled with reclaimed wood planks and baked bricks.
To contrast there are cool bronze and copper accents as well as raw, exposed steel structural columns, which nicely juxtapose the mix of old and new furnishings upholstered in leather or velvet to form cosy seating areas. There is also a communal table.
Warm, golden lighting is provided by industrial and artisanal fittings, such as exposed light bulbs and suspended glass globes. Flickers of light are also reflected from films projected onto a cement wall.
The centrepiece is the smooth marble circular bar fitted with glass and bronze globe lights at which diners can sit and marvel at the décor while enjoying tapas and vino.
Suspended directly above the bar is Vasco’s intimate private dining retreat, which appears wonderfully monumental and Brutalist in form because of its armature-like silhouette and woven copper cabling.
There is also an outdoor area featuring a separate bar and lounges that overlook the PMQ complex.
Upstairs sister restaurant, Vasco, specialises in Basque cuisine. To reflect its fine dining status, the 60-seat restaurant comprising two semi-private dining rooms and two private rooms, is a more formal and opulent affair than Isono.
It is perched on the mezzanine level adjacent to an inviting balcony area that overlooks PMQ’s Cube – the courtyard space that sits between the site’s two buildings – and features an alluring mix of glass, metal, and marble paired with plush velvet high-backed sofas and soft leather chairs.
Colours of gold, burnt caramel, deep green and tar reference the aging process of Spain’s celebrated olive oil as well as the dominant palette of colours evident in mid-Century Europe and the US.
The perimeter of the main dining room is enclosed by lens- patterned glass within a metal framework so that diners can observe the movement and lighting of the floor above while eating in privacy. It is clad with exotic marble panelling, dimly lit onyx ceilings and furniture that boasts an art deco silhouette. Black lacquered floors extend to the balcony outside, incorporating the slim balcony space into the restaurant.
The centrepiece here is the aforementioned private dining room; a glamorous circular capsule that soars above Isono offering views of the goings-on below as well as the best seats for enjoying film projections over the double-height wall.
What is also projected in both of these beautiful restaurants is Wang’s magical touch.