Following the success of BAO’s street food stalls, we were invited to work on the design of the first of their permanent London sites, a thirty-seater restaurant on Soho’s Lexington Street.
A collaboration with founders Shing, Erchen and Ting, the aesthetic is inspired by the stories of the team’s upbringing and their travels around Asia – of street market eating, Japanese B movies, the Xiao Chi houses of Taiwan and the salaryman dining alone in an oversized suit. The brand and architecture are simultaneously understated; utilitarian, friendly and graphic-led. Designed to capture its roots in street market eating, the restaurant has a pared-back wooden interior, a long communal bar area, and a set of small tables above a terrazzo tile floor. Below the site’s sparse and considered signage, the now-famous ‘lonely BAO man’ of the restaurant’s brand brings a bun to his mouth on a low-key lightbox at the front window’s ledge.
Working within the Soho Conservation Area, we were careful to provide a strategic and sensitive approach to the design of the architecture and signage.