Les Mills International
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Designer Henry Chebaane inspired by aliens, anime and Andy Warhol for Sci-Fi tinged Asian restaurant

The founder of design studio Blue Sky Hospitality Henry Chebaane has told CLAD that interior designers should not be afraid of “outside the box” thinking if they are to create livelier and more authentic hotels, bars, restaurants and leisure spaces.

Chebaane and his design firm, Blue Sky Hospitality, are known for their creative and unorthodox designs, and have just launched a typically quirky Asian restaurant called Kojawan on the top floor of London's Hilton Metropole hotel, with a panoramic view of the city’s northwest.

The restaurant is designed as a retro-futuristic, otherworldly scene, with European design features combined Andy Warhol-style art work and science fiction stylings from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan – countries which have inspired the restaurant's cuisine and its name.

The white ceilings are covered with intricate space-age panels and pipeworks; soft titanium cladding covers the walls; LED screens display Japanese-style anime clips; aluminium menus feature typography taken from manga; and large mirrors are emblazoned with Sci-Fi references, such as the logo of Weyland Corporation from the Aliens film franchise.

In contrast, muted colours following a duotone colour scheme are used to reflect Zen philosophy and the simplicity of private, intimate domestic settings in the three countries.

“Kojawan does not look authentic according to average Western expectations of an Asian restaurant, yet in reality it is filled with a multitude of genuine details,” Chebaane told CLAD. “I have been a frequent visitor to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea over the last 10 years, and while every nation is very unique, there are some shared characteristics – colourful urban pop art, eccentric youth culture, vibrant music, lively dining scenes, Sci-Fi references and a big love of pop culture.

“I’ve attempted to create real tangible and physical experiences from the virtual world of movies, comics and novels. As this is a kind of reverse of virtual reality, we call it ‘real virtuality.’

“I wanted to break every rule about what we typically expect Asian dining to be, but in a fun, lively and authentic way, while at the same time making it relevant to London as an artistic hub in its own right. Designers shouldn’t be afraid to think like this.”

Chebaane – who created 50 sculptures for Kojawan, including a politically-charged replica of the bomb that fell on Nagasaki, with the Japanese word for ‘love’ written on it – insisted that design inspired by pop art can move beyond the superficial.

“All the artwork in Kojawan is open to interpretation,” he said. “It’s a mixture of genres, timeframes and artistic styles, and I hope everyone who comes can interpret their own meaning from it which they take away with them.”

Kojawan is being run by chefs Bjorn Van Der Horst and Omar Romero who have worked in several top London restaurants and hotels. The menu is as quirky as the design, with options including ponzu popcorn prawns and liquorice fish sauce, rice sandwiches and crab-turnip egg cake.

Blue Sky are working on a number of other UK projects, including a British-Indian steampunk bar and restaurant based on time travel and the botanical expeditions of the Victorians, which Chebaane described as “H.G.Wells and Jules Verne meet Doctor Who.”

Kojawan  Henry Chebaane  Blue Sky Hospitality  SCI-Fi  Japan  South Korea  Taiwan  restaurant design 
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The founder of design studio Blue Sky Hospitality Henry Chebaane has told CLAD that interior designers should not be afraid of “outside the box” thinking if they are to create livelier and more authentic hotels, bars, restaurants and leisure spaces. Chebaane and his design firm, Blue Sky Hospitality, are known for their creative and unorthodox designs, and have just launched a typically quirky Asian restaurant called Kojawan on the top
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The restaurant is designed as a retro-futuristic, otherworldly scene, with European design features combined Andy Warhol-style art work / Blue Sky Hospitality
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