Kieran Brash of Brash Atelier on Why Interior Design Matters in F&B
July 10, 2023
Form and Function is our home to explore the journeys of Hong Kong’s physical makers, the architects and interior designers who create defining spaces we use to party, eat, and live in. Behind every building and room in our architecturally-marvellous city is a master of their profession.
British architect and interior designer Kieran Brash is the director behind Brash Atelier, a bespoke interior design company based in Hong Kong that has created some of Hong Kong’s greatest new restaurant venues.
Acres. Perhaps you have recently dined at the unique Spanish venue BARBAR in Wan Chai, sampled cookies at Tai Hang’s Cookie Vision, enjoyed wine at Man Mo Dim Sum in Sheung Wan, or celebrated an evening at Honky Tonks or Shady Acres.
We spoke to Kieran to understand his journey from the UK to creating beloved restaurants and bars we routinely eat and drink at in Hong Kong with Brash Atelier.
Hi Kieran, what is your background in architecture and interior design? What is your connection to Hong Kong, and architecture in Hong Kong?
I trained in architecture at Liverpool, UK first, and then moved to London to work and qualified as an architect. London is a fantastic city to train, but in practice, projects can take a long time to build compared to Hong Kong. Most of my practical experience involved high end, bespoke residential work in central London. The design teams were large, and the projects were meticulous.
As for Hong Kong, I didn’t have much connection before settling here, but it was a place I was always drawn to, since it’s the opposite of what I had experienced before. My connection to Hong Kong now is my young family that I’m raising here, while balancing lots of exciting projects across the city.
What inspired you to found Brash Atelier?
It started with a humble commission to design a bench, and steadily the momentum and projects grew over time. From that mini project, I got my first real taste for working with a client one to one, rather than through degrees of separation in a larger design team.
I’ve since built on that idea of having a strong communication between client and designer. In a relatively short time, I’ve had the privilege of working with many clients on many varied projects, and there’s a great feeling when they come back to us. There’s more trust when working with people you know, so ideas get bolder.
In interior design and creating public spaces, what design principles and philosophies are important?
There are many factors at play when I’m first approached to design a new project. For one, the practical aspects must be thought about alongside the poetic design intentions. Put it simply, first it must work. But the spaces also have to say something.
I also put a lot of emphasis on what the place should feel like from the very first moment I step on site. This informs the textures and materiality, the lighting, the furniture, how you move through the space, what is revealed and what is hidden.
With your specialty in designing great restaurants and bars, what attracts you to creating for the food and beverage industry?
There’s something unique about designing for bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, over say, private inaccessible spaces. The feedback loop is immediate. The chance to put ideas into practice and learn from them is accelerated. Everything gets continuously refined. We are learning by doing.
At the same time, some of the most creative and forward-thinking people I’ve met, have come from the F&B industry. There’s a lot of passion from the clients to provide beautiful and meaningful extensions of the city.
The more passion and energy [you have] during the early design stages, the more you can feel it in how people engage as they make use of the space.
What are some of your most proud projects completed in Hong Kong and the region?
To name a few, Winston’s Coffee in Kennedy town was one of our first projects to get lots of attention. Then there’s the hattrick of Shady Acres, Honky Tonks Tavern and The Quality Goods Club. All three spaces continue to be hugely popular, which is a great feeling.
Schnitzel & Schnaps on Hollywood Road, which started its life as another concept that I also designed, and found its natural form as an Austrian inspired Bistro. The attention to detail put into that project was immense.
More recently, Barkada just off Hollywood Road, a bold concept breaking new ground, and The Savory Project in Soho, from the COA team, where I had the chance to reimagine what a cocktail bar could be.
Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Form and Function interviews here.
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