Blind Tiger is a contemporary dim sum restaurant and bar set in the basement Dojo – a former Hung Gar school of Kung Fu for JSM Bar & Leisure. Fusing traditional Asian designs with Liverpool’s industrial heritage, Snook Architects created a warm, inviting speakeasy with an urban outdoor garden space. The subtle references to the Asian theme are inspired by the location’s previous use, avoiding the cliché of dim sum restaurant design, while raw materials contrast the refined design.
Broken into different sections, Blind Tiger consists of a reception, an outdoor courtyard, private alcoves, a stage and house dim sum. As you enter the space the Asian speakeasy vibe is palpable with the rich colours and warmth of materials, the design unfolds as you are led through from the entrance reception area and past a full height tiger wall mural.
The interior space underwent a complete remodel with heavy steel support girders added to allow this planned remodelling, linking the service areas and the kitchen. Below street level, a carved out bar area with a more casual, relaxed atmosphere was created by the essential supports. Intricately carved dark wood partitions divide the large space into private alcoves; suggestive of the Asian theme without being overly oriental.
A rear entrance with access via covered stairs in an overhead canopy also leads to an urban garden where ‘less is more’. Minimal furniture and decoration of the exterior creates a zen style space. This courtyard is simply decorated with sturdy long benches, a sparse string of festoon lights above and a washed out mural add to the industrial era, while the neon signage takes inspiration from the William Blake poem.
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
The Tiger, William Blake
Exposed brick walls and reductionist finishes allow the quality of the materiality to express itself. Featured prominently throughout the dining areas are Industville ‘Brooklyn Giant Bell’ pendant lights with antique shades and holders in brass. Antique bird cages are also used in the lighting creating atmospheric shadows, while direct illumination from Industville’s Orlando Cage wall lights create an ambience that complements the colour palette used in the interior scheme.
Banquette seating is set along the walls and into the canted bay windows making the most of the space while vintage cage lighting in sconces above the clustered tables provide direct illumination and a warm ambience. The result is an unusual Asian speakeasy, with a cocktail bar and contemporary dim sum late-night diner. Holding onto the spirit of the venue’s former occupation, the rich colours, patterns and textures have transformed the space.
Images © Andy Haslam