Tucked away on a sloping corner in Hong Kong’s famous antiques district, Sheung Wan, Mrs Pound by NC Design & Architecture is a small 45 seat (150 m2) speakeasy style restaurant and bar that offers a modern and playful spin on an Asian fusion cuisine.
The restaurant’s discreet façade is informed by the fictional narrative of two star crossed lovers who secretly reunite in midlife. As the legend suggests, the restaurant’s namesake character Mrs Pound was a renowned burlesque dancer in 1950’s Shanghai. Weary of the limelight, the glamorous femme fatale retires to Hong Kong in the 1960s to seek refuge with her childhood love, the married Mr Ming. An avid stamp collector, Mr Ming sets up a neighbourhood stamp shop as the perfect front to disguise Mrs Pound’s speakeasy, their clandestine meeting spot.
To gain entry to the restaurant, guests in the know activate a concealed door by pressing a secret stamp hidden within the huge illuminated vitrine. The shop façade slides open to reveal a vibrant pink and green dining space filled with vintage photos and intimate memorabilia that tell the story of Mrs Pound’s mysterious and extravagant life.
NCDA drew inspiration from the cult film classics of Chinese film director Wong Kar Wai, to achieve a hybrid environment that fuses East and West, mixing elements of traditional Hong Kong with a bold vision of the future. The restaurant is divided into two main spaces: the lower dining area conveys a feminine glamour through the use of pink leather banquettes, mirrored marquee lights, pink patterned Chinese tiles, and delicate gold accents. The upper dining area conveys a rugged masculine counterpoint through the use of diagonal concrete panels, green floor tiles, green barstools and colourful atmospheric neon artwork.
The two spaces meet at the bar, where the tiles slowly change in colour from pink to green, highlighted by gymnastic ring lights that add a layer of visual complexity to the space. This complexity extends throughout the bar, where butterflies and other artefacts take the visitor on a journey through the lives of Mrs Pound and Mr Ming.
At Mrs Pound, the seamless integration of interior design, furniture, lighting fixtures, graphics, staff uniforms and menu result in a multi-layered sensory and gastronomic experience. Through the synthesis of the vintage references and modern details, NCDA has set a compelling stage for the theatre of dining.
Images © Dennis Lo Designs and Justin Lim