Tag Archives: DIN TAI FUNG

NUMBER 101 AND THE MAKING OF A VIDEO

May 31, 2019

Within the studio of Poon Design Inc.: raw, industrial, collaborative and exploratory.

For myself, I applaud. Today I am publishing my 101st essay on this platform! In traditional terms, this effort would constitute a 500-page book, not even counting photos. For this blog (web-log: for those who don’t know), I have avoided writing silly tweets, mere blurbs and convenient commentary. Instead, I have sought to author articles of substantial thought—researched, illustrated and well composed. To accompany this 101st article, a video was created on Poon Design Inc., by videographer, Grant Bozigian.

Our design for a seminal 120,000-square-foot Asian lifestyle center for Orange County. First floor: Asian seafood market. Second floor: Korean spa. Third floor: Japanese karaoke bar. Fourth floor: Chinese garden restaurant.

I invite you to watch our video here .

As we started this project, I studied videos about architecture companies. Some too long, some too short, some weirdly paced, and some with no substance at all. Most of the corporate marketing videos had a talking head in a suit, usually an old white guy talking tediously about being “on budget and on schedule.” Is this content worthy of a video?

One video from a prestigious design company used a single gimmick: staff members talking about a certain material they like, such as stone or metal. Interesting as an idea, yes—but over and over again? I endlessly watched one anonymous staffer after another approaching the camera with a big piece of glass or tile. It’s a one-trick pony.

I was unfortunate to run across a video that didn’t show any images of the architecture, which I assume is what most audiences want to see. Instead, this architect presented the company’s logo in various animated forms. It was absurd, and I wondered: Who cares?

Studies of skylight shades, first hand sketched, then made into a small desktop model, followed by a half-size mock up, finally milled out of plywood and installed at the restaurant, Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, and Din Tai Fung at The American at Brand, Glendale, California.

I found the poor videos shocking, because a video is very architectural—in that it is spatial, experiential, and a journey through time. Shouldn’t an architect be able to conceive of a creative video, just as she would design a creative building?

Me at a Steinway concert grand in Palos Verdes, California.

With the making of our video, I sought to tell a story, as well as show images of the work of Poon Design. The video is in three parts: a little about me, who we are as a studio and what we do, and finally, our interest in the creative process and storytelling. I hope you enjoy it. Our videographer also composed the music, except of course for the beginning which I thank J.S. Bach for his Praeludium from Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BMV 825.

The Goodyear blimp hovers over our WV Mixed-Use Project in Manhattan Beach, California, while a jet does a flyby at our C.A.P. Mixed-Use project in Mid-City Los Angeles, California.

Look for some wonderful details. Avoiding the cliché, often-ridiculed-Ken-Burns-panning of photographs, we animated some still images with a subtle motion between the foreground and background. The first project starts with a fortunate footage catching the Goodyear blimp in the sky. Complementing this, an airplane soars through a computer rendering later in the video. My company video ends with the same project from the start, but now at dusk, as the design goes to sleep.

Our creative process.

We show not just the pretty pictures of our designs, but also the creative mess behind it: our disorganized but sincere desks, dusty cardboard models, color pencils in entropy, sketches of good and bad ideas, the typical rolls and rolls of drawings, and an artist’s palette of acrylic paints.

One of my passions: making mixed-media art.

 

MY EARS ARE RINGING

February 19, 2016

Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar, Los Angeles, California, by Mass, renovated by Poon Design (photo by Alen Lin)

Okay, I won’t name names, but the guilty comprise many restaurants in Los Angeles and other cities. At these establishments, yes, I enjoy the food, the service and the architecture. But why can’t I hear my friends who sit across from me? Why is the noise level actually painful—my ears ringing from the haranguing clamor, and my throat sore from yelling mere table conversation?

I came across the post, How to Choose A Restaurant When You have Heraing Loss, from leading hearing health advocate Shari Eberts, on her blog, Living With Hearing Loss. In her post, she describes the challenges that those with hearing loss can have when dining out and provides suggestions for how to best navigate a restaurant environment.

While I complain about poorly designed acoustic environments, I can only imagine the overwhelming negative impact on restaurant customers with any degree of hearing loss.

Acoustical panels made from compressed recycled wood fibers painted red by Tectum, with cork wall panels, Saffron, Beverly Hills, California, by Poon Design
Acoustical panels made from compressed recycled wood fibers painted red by Tectum, with cork wall panels, Saffron, Beverly Hills, California, by Poon Design

The irresponsibility is embarrassing. Most restaurateurs, architects and interior designers/decorators seem to be okay focusing only on the visual and ignoring the aural. Meaning, focusing only on what you see and ignoring how you hear. Listen, it is as if a lazy chef separated your taste buds from yours eyes, suggesting that your entrée doesn’t have to taste good, as long as it is looks good.

Recent interests in tuning up the restaurant experience to address the adverse effects of sound, vibration and reverberation are admirable. Though it is questionable to view the topic as a “new design trend.” Would we call safety a new design trend in automotive design?

To create a comprehensive design, don’t just select stylish furniture, nice art and an agreeable palette of paint colors. The notes below are only a start, but should guide everyone from chefs to managers to designers in achieving quality aural architecture.

ONE

Parallel surfaces can bounce the clatter of noise everywhere, even increasing it at times. A few degrees of shift or angle to any surface dissipate the echo. This can be done ambitiously with walls or easily with the placement of a wine display case or host stand.

Angled porcelain tile dividers at 8 Fish, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design
Angled porcelain tile dividers at 8 Fish, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design

TWO

Adding soft surfaces like upholstered furniture and wall coverings are givens. Think about attaching sound absorbing fabric to the underside of dining tables. As sound bounces from the floor up towards customers’ ears, the fabric reduces the impact. Absorbing material and industry acoustic panels can be hidden in dozens of places. You don’t have to install an acoustic tile ceiling, which makes your restaurant look like a corporate office.

Acoustic insulation laid out of sight, on top of the lid over the bar (left side) at Memphis Café, Manhattan Beach, California, by Poon Design (photo by Within A Dream)
Acoustic insulation laid out of sight, on top of the lid over the bar (left side) at Memphis Café, Manhattan Beach, California, by Poon Design (photo by Within A Dream)

THREE

I like “transparent ceilings.” Besides delivering the impression of a taller space, this approach produces one of the best acoustic solutions. As noise travels up, it is trapped by acoustic insulation.  Another ceiling idea: varying heights prevent lingering echo, which also offers a diversity of scale.

left: Hickory slat ceiling at Sushi Noguchi, Yorba Linda, California; right: A lowered ceiling at Deluca’s Italian Deli, The Americana at Brand, Glendale, both by Poon Design
left: Hickory slat ceiling at Sushi Noguchi, Yorba Linda, California; right: A lowered ceiling at Deluca’s Italian Deli, The Americana at Brand, Glendale, both by Poon Design

FOUR

Ms. Eberts is correct about “Sound Absorbing Décor.” Almost anything can be engineered to diffuse sound travel, such as large painted canvases, ceiling sculpture, metal screens, wood lattices, or even light fixtures. Or, surprise a visitor with artificial grass used on a vertical surface, or a tree on the inside.

top left: Water jet cut, weathered steel screens in an interpretive Chinese pattern at Joss Cuisine, Beverly Hills, California; top right: Moveable white oak screens at Din Tai Fung, The Americana at Brand, Glendale (photo by Gregg Segal); bottom left: Mendocino Farms, Marina del Rey (winner of 2011 International Design Award for Best Restaurant from The American Institute of Architects) and West Hollywood, California, all by Poon Design
top left: Water jet cut, weathered steel screens in an interpretive Chinese pattern at Joss Cuisine, Beverly Hills, California; top right: Moveable white oak screens at Din Tai Fung, The Americana at Brand, Glendale (photo by Gregg Segal); bottom left: Mendocino Farms, Marina del Rey (winner of 2011 International Design Award for Best Restaurant from The American Institute of Architects) and West Hollywood, California, all by Poon Design

FIVE

Restaurants are embracing modern design, but that doesn’t have to mean hard cold surfaces. Balance a concrete floor with walnut planks and brass mesh. Sleek surfaces are easy to keep clean, but juxtapose that polished stone countertop with a leather elbow rest.

Dividers at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, CA, by Poon Design, winner of 2009 International Design Award for Best Restaurant from The American Institute of Architects (photo by Gregg Segal)
Dividers at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, CA, by Poon Design, winner of 2009 International Design Award for Best Restaurant from The American Institute of Architects (photo by Gregg Segal)

Keep the high ceilings, but bring the intimate scale and noise level down with funky chandeliers.

Top: Each chandelier is made of wire fencing and 1,500 wood clothespins at Mendocino Farms, Los Angeles, California; bottom: Laser cut Walnut plywood lamp shades, Din Tai Fung, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal) both projects by Poon Design
Top: Each chandelier is made of wire fencing and 1,500 wood clothespins at Mendocino Farms, Los Angeles, California; bottom: Laser cut Walnut plywood lamp shades, Din Tai Fung, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal) both projects by Poon Design

CONCLUSION

Include acoustic ideas as part of every design discussion, not as an afterthought or something trivial. Think of your restaurant as an instrument. It needs to be tuned.

DIN TAI FUNG: I’LL TAKE TWO

January 15, 2016

Exhibition dumpling kitchen and chefs, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)

For Michelin-rated restaurant, Din Tai Fung, Poon Design Inc. designed two locations, fit for what the The New York Times has called, “one of the Top Ten Restaurants in the World.” Our architecture showcases the essence of Chinese craft with thoroughly modern and seductively detailed spaces.

Though the Taiwanese clients possessed an appreciation for Asian design, this husband-wife team did not seek the predictably themed Chinese restaurant. Meaning, no golden dragons, no cartoonish calligraphy and no red silk curtains.

Lounge dining and plywood skylights, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)
Lounge dining and plywood skylights, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)

The cuisine at Din Tai Fung inspired Poon Design. Over 50,000 dumplings are painstakingly made each day per location. By hand.

Our architectural response is this: craftsmanship of elemental materials such as wood and stone, interpreted through contemporary fabrication.

Exhibition dumpling kitchen and circular motif, Glendale, California (photo by Gregg Segal)
Exhibition dumpling kitchen and circular motif, Glendale, California (photo by Gregg Segal)

At both California projects, South Coast Plaza in Coast Mesa and The Americana at Brand in Glendale, our centerpiece is the exhibition kitchen, which puts the artistry of the chefs on theatrical display. A circular design motif takes a cue from the bamboo steamers used to prepare the dumplings. A wood ceiling of halo-lit circles extends from the exhibition kitchen, folding down as a display wall of ceremonial vessels—from which the restaurants take their name: din (vessels). The circular theme repeats in milled white oak sheets laminated between layers of glass comprising the kitchen windows.

Central dining room with Turrell-inspired dome, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)
Central dining room with Turrell-inspired dome, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)

The dramatic restaurant walls of stone slabs and wood planks contrast the highly detailed CNC-cut wood screens and water jet-cut, powder-coated aluminum panels. Dense patterns at the bottom of these screens provide privacy, while open patterns at the top allow in natural light.

Patio and exterior of central dining room, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)
Patio and exterior of central dining room, Costa Mesa, California (photo by Gregg Segal)

At 8,300 square feet and 200 seats, the Costa Mesa location features a lounge area of honed sandstone and Walnut plywood skylights, a dining room with a Turrell-inspired elliptical dome, walnut furniture custom designed by Poon Design, and a patio under a muscular steel canopy. Emanating from the exhibition kitchen, the shaped plaster ceiling echoes our restored 1960’s sculptural entry pavilion.

At 7,000-square-foot and 170 seats, the Glendale location additionally features heavily grained Oak planks, brass inlay Chinese characters, Juno limestone, black porcelain flooring, and custom oak and leather furniture.

top: Reception and plywood lamp shades, Glendale, California (photo by Gregg Segal); bottom: Dining room with movable screens, Glendale, California (photo by Gregg Segal)
top: Reception and plywood lamp shades, Glendale, California; bottom: Dining room with movable screens, Glendale, California (photos by Gregg Segal)

Poon Design explores artistry and craft, with our architecture also combining old and new. We acknowledge the legacy of the past, while embracing an exciting future.

© Poon Design Inc.