The commission for the design project for ‘Urban’ restaurant,  located inside an exclusive shopping mall in the heart of Hong Kong, was awarded to Joey Ho Design Limited, a studio with a remarkable honors list of contract creations, in the restaurant and retail sectors in particular.

The concept reflected in the design is that of an informal venue, playful even, capable of softening the restaurant’s rather high-end positioning. Instead, the concept places the venue squarely in the urban category, though not without jazzing it up with some sophisticated solutions.

The project draws inspiration from Hong Kong’s metropolitan context, full of the contrasts and contradictions typical of a city that works 24 hours a day.


The interior walls showcase a collection of images which summarize the metropolis concept. The space has been virtually divided up into three theme areas: the marketplace, the square and the town.

The kitchen has been conceived as a marketplace, using industrial materials such as the beams and wires that make up several food counters, from the bakery to the coffee shop, covering the full range of eating options. Colored neon signs caption the choice of food, while the low walls, like a countertop, are covered in white tiles.

The ‘square’ is represented by the path along which customers proceed, and by the vast amount of room available for their movements, as they walk to their tables.

You then find the ‘town’ at the tables themselves, with a view over the shopping mall which hosts the restaurant and, especially, through the ‘rough’, aggressive’ urban traces marking Urban’s walls.

It’s a whole template of graffiti, in stark contrast with the luxury brands present in the shopping mall. The graffiti blend into the suspended ceiling’s design which is artfully irregular and cut in the image of Hong Kong’s skyline, while parts of it are left rough.

Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto a.k.a. Vhils, with his drill and scalpel, was selected to ‘batter’ one of the walls, which now combines a human portrait with lettering and slogans: the end result is a fantastic mural evoking, with its choice of images, the artist’s own interpretation of Hong Kong.

Other design features include a ‘chandelier’ built of water pipes and the the cast iron base around the tables’ legs, to mimic the manholes you find on streets.

Urban goes beyond the restaurant concept: it’s a provocation and a venue which has all the right features to go ‘viral’, in the social network sense of the word.

Matteo De Bartolomeis

Matteo De Bartolomeis

Born in Milan, a career in professional publishing with a significant interlude in behavioral and methodology training. He went digital and experienced first-hand the birth and rise of the internet, working in IT publishing in the 1990s. Has been working for 12 years with and for Suite magazine and on b2b publishing projects for the contract and hotel industry, with special focus on the international evolution of design, on trends and transformations in the relevant markets and the role of social media in the industry.