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Time Travel at Spiga

Step into post-war Italy at Joyce Wang’s latest restaurant and bar project, where a multitude of beautiful details come together to tell a story.

  • The pendulous light, designed by Joyce Wang, was inspired by the circus, juggling and movement. Image courtesy of Dining Concepts

  • Circus paraphernalia on the walls at Spiga. Image by Alexa Maeland

  • A sketch of the pendulum light

  • The bar, with its glass-cased curios, and leather sole-panelling. Image by Alex Maeland

  • Vintage gold pineapples and a light inspired by Milan's metro in this dining area. Image by Alex Maeland

  • Equestrian events inspired this area. Image by Alex Maeland

  • The terrace at Portico. Image by Alex Maeland



BY Tamsin Bradshaw

January 20th, 2017


The new Italian eatery in town tells a story: one of 1950s Italy. It’s a story that comes through when you look at the venue – formerly another Italian restaurant, Lupa, which was also a Dining Concepts endeavour – as a whole, and also when you take the time to notice the details.

There’s the subtle acid etching on the terrazzo floor at the centre of Spiga, which was inspired by a pattern found on the stones of a piazza in Rome. Then there are the leather straps hanging from the ceiling in an area to the side of this, a nod to the equestrian history of Campo de’ Fiori, also in Rome. Let’s not forget all the circus paraphernalia on display in glass cases at the bar, or the bar itself, which is clad in leather insoles – some of which come from vintage Italian shoes, and the rest of which were procured locally.

These are the hallmarks of Joyce Wang’s style: she and her team pay attention to the little things, and how they come together to form a complete and multi-layered whole. “There are all these really subtle details I feel like no-one would really notice unless I pointed them out,” says Wang.

There’s a very cinematic quality to this space – one that partly stems from the loose influence 1950s Italian films had on the design (Fellini’s films, for example, were a reference point for the Italian settings of the era), and one that also comes from Wang’s desire to create a narrative you have to take the time to uncover. “It has to be unraveled, like a film. It adds layering to it, it makes somebody want to actively figure out the story,” she says.

In fact, each area of this restaurant has its own story. The bar and banquette seating area draw on “street performers in the different Italian piazzas and also the circus,” explains Wang. Meanwhile, at the back by the open kitchen, is a busy dining area, which takes its cues from the Milan metro.

Dominating one wall is an attention-grabbing light, which is “an abstraction of the Milan metro map,” says Wang. “The chairs also have this tubular aspect to them. The floor here is the Milan metro flooring. All the buckles, all the leather, they reference Milan’s well-dressed businessmen. I knew this area by the kitchen was going to be bustling, so it needed to feel more urban and ‘Hong Kong’.”

Certain elements pull all the varied spaces together: the lighting, which was the starting point for the design of each space; the terrazzo flooring and the use of marble on floors and tables; the leather elements in surprising places; and the palm motif, found on vintage brass palms, and on the palm-leaf fabrics in the private dining area, and on the terrace.

The terrace is home to Portico, the venue’s outdoor bar, which is a haven of cabanas and expansive lounge seating. Lupa’s central bar has been removed, making the space feel much bigger and more connected. At the same time, the cabanas and the overhead drapery give the terrace a cosiness that makes you feel far from Hong Kong’s CBD.

This is the beauty of Spiga, and indeed, of Wang’s design in general: it transports you to another time and another place, whether fictional or real – or a mix of both.