Who says Midtown Manhattan is a culinary wasteland? Hakkasan New York (the brand’s seventh location globally) on West 43rd street boasts 11,000 square feet of space and seating for 200-and its reputation is equally grand, as the first and only Chinese restaurant in Europe with a Michelin star.
Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier of Paris-based firm Gilles & Boissier designed the space-fitting, as they started their careers in the Paris studio of the world-renowned interior and furniture designer Christian Liaigre in 1995, where Gilles worked on the original Hakkasan concept design. The team also designed the brand’s first overseas restaurant in Istanbul in 2006. Thus, the team was well versed on the brand and delivered its mainstays in the new Manhattan spot: architecture and detailing reminiscent of a Chinese courtyard, a long feature bar (this one anchored by a metallic wall backdrop), and a separate VIP area, the Ling Ling lounge. “Each restaurant is a moment to invent new ideas, but we always kept the idea of a Chinese house which is about transparency, opacity, and framing,” Gilles says.
For the New York iteration of Hakkasan, the owner wanted access to the space from the back, hence the dramatic corridor entrance in marble that brings you from the façade entrance to the reception desk. Custom furniture, porcelain lamps, and varied textures in wood, leather, and glass establish a polished, sexy ambiance, “playing with transparency, hidden tables, mystery,” says Boissier. “It is a question of mise en scene with each table. Each one has to be unique and needs a great view as well as great furniture.”
To give the true highlight of the space-the food-its due, the designers worked to showcase the open kitchen, which is enveloped in blue frosted glass: “There’s energy, movement. Chinese food is a great scene to look at,” Gilles notes. “Locating the kitchen and understanding how to take advantage of its view is the first step of each Hakkasan restaurant.”
As with many Asian-inspired locales, the key to Hakkasan is harmony between all of the different elements, says Boissier. “It is a unique balance between being spectacular and human at the same time.”