Ethai Café

Quarta & Armando brought a neutral palette while utilizing various patterns and materials for the Ethai Café giving it a welcoming environment with an ease of privacy if desired.

  • area / size 1,130 sqft
  • Year 2021
  • Location Shanghai, China,
  • Tucked away in the busy commercial basement of Shanghai’s Kerry Center, Ethai Café offers a fresh take on traditional Thai cuisine, focusing on simple light dishes created from healthy ingredients.

    The earthy color and material palette is based on gradients reminiscent of central Thailand’s archaeological sites and lands, and its nooks and sitting areas appear to have been carved out of the rammed earth that envelops the façade.

    Given the secluded and constrained nature of the site, we imagined a space that could provide a peaceful and transient retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. In order to achieve this, the project follows the directional concept of an enveloping geometry. Consequently, the facade is willingly designed give a slight cut to the space from the public area, through a lowered ceiling and a low wall, unfolding like a ribbon from within the restaurant and draping the exterior. An opening of the low wall, which reveals a banquette on the inside, creates an inviting entrance, naturally guiding customers into the space. These volumes are slightly offset from the site boundaries, enforcing this feeling of “space within space”.

    The layout gives customers a certain level of privacy, while still feeling somewhat connected to the rest of the public space. Overlooking the customers stands a dome-shaped ceiling, formed by a grid of wooden beams, in which conceals the space’s lighting. This structure defines a vaulted space that feels private yet convivial, like a contemporary interpretation of the primordial hut.

    The material selection further enhances this idea of quiet sobriety by deploying a palette rich in earthy tones and alternating rough and smooth textures. Welcomed by the rammed earth gradient at the entrance, the customer then notes with interest the coarse terrazzo flooring that guides them into the space. Lifting further their eye-level, they will discover a rich texture on the vertical surfaces, covered by
    white arched tiles. Simultaneously, the environment feels natural from the wooden surfaces on the furniture and the grid ceiling, as well as the vegetation. Finally, pieces of artwork constitute different focal points of the restaurant, bringing a traditional Thai touch and finalizing the integrality of Ethai Café.

    Design: Quarta & Armando
    Photography: Dirk Weiblen