Ashley Sutton on His Signature Mythical Interior Design
Asia/ Urbanite/ Interior Design

Ashley Sutton Designs Asia’s Most Mythical Bars and Restaurants

Ashley Sutton Designs Asias Most Mythical Bars and Restaurants

Form and Function is our home to explore the journeys of Asia’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 region is a master of their profession.

Hong Kong’s newest nightlife space, Maggie Choo's, has swept eyes to the hidden cocktail bar, designed in the former world of Far Eastern adventure. Decked in a Chinoiserie-inspired décor, the venue is yet another masterstroke from Ashley Sutton, a designer you may have never met, but you have likely got drunk in one of his bars already.

The Australian designer conceived the designs behind Iron Fairies, Dear Lilly, Dragonfly, and The Mixing Room, each one unique in their design of embracing the motifs of a fairy table novel and the fantastical nature of an underworld magical kingdom.

Crafting a narrative and visual spectacle in each of these trademarked venues, Ashley has caught attention in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Tokyo with his eccentric design. We spoke to the designer about his method for creating magic in Asia’s top bars. 

Ashley Sutton Designs Asia’s Most Mythical Bars and Restaurants
Website/Ashley Sutton Design

What is your background in design, and how did you find yourself in this career?

I wrote a children’s book called Iron Fairies that led me to a book launch in New York. I then opened a fairy store there, and that was popular because of the fairy design.

From there, I went to Bangkok and built a fairy factory that became famous; and people wanted to watch the team make fairies in this room. They wanted a drink, they wanted to eat, they just loved to be in this room.

I had a lot of people, and slowly we started serving food and drinks. Since then, I have received a lot of enquiries from other landlords about designing their spaces.

Designing in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Tokyo, what attracts you to these cities?

Hospitality owners know that a well-designed venue is critical, and I enjoyed working with people who share the same vision. I would design anywhere in the world whenever the opportunity takes me, but no one had the guts to do it other than Asia for now.

Ashley Sutton Designs Asia’s Most Mythical Bars and Restaurants
Website/Ashley Sutton Design

With the launch of Maggie Choo's in Hong Kong, Dear Lilly, Dragonfly, Iron Fairies, and Sing Sing Theatre in Bangkok, each hosting an ethereal design theme, what is your inspiration for your signature "magical wonderland" theme?

Pure boredom in my own mind. It all started a long time ago during those days I was working in the iron ore mine.

To battle the boredom of the dreadful working environment, I started to draw, sketch and basically create a gateway into a creative world to keep my mind engaged and occupied.

Why have you found a specialty in working on projects within the F&B industry?

I guess for now I am only known for bars and clubs’ design. To be honest, I wish I could also design hotels, boats or houses. I am open to all sorts of opportunities.

Ashley Sutton Designs Asia’s Most Mythical Bars and Restaurants
Website/Ashley Sutton Design

To be a great interior designer, what philosophies and principles do you have to learn to become the master?

I'm no master! I’m just lucky I'm a builder by trade and have a wild imagination and can easily know how to tell a contractor how to build a crazy design. I think that's how it comes together easily.

I already picture every detail of an establishment before it's started. It's easy for me to tell a contractor what to do and what colour or the material goes there.

To know more about Ashley Sutton's works, please visit his website.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Form and Function interviews here.

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