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A cocktail bar in disguise

Foxglove, a private lounge bar in Central, Hong Kong designed by NC Design & Architecture (NCDA), is a space of masquerade. The cocktail bar, disguised as a handcrafted umbrella shop, mimics first class vehicle cabins for a surreal ‘travelling’ experience. Sylvia Chan writes.

A cocktail bar in disguise

Completed in November 2015, Foxglove is a 4,300-square-foot private club hidden within a shop that sells British silver-handle umbrellas. The entrance to the private club is a sliding door that forms part of a cabinet wall that displays umbrellas. A carved silver handle on the door subtly indicates the entrance to the private lounge bar. “We derived the concept from handcrafted umbrella shops, a British heritage,” says Nelson Chow of NCDA, who led the project. “We did research on umbrella shops from London in the 1950s, as well as Wes Anderson’s movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel. We studied the classics and added our own twist to the design [of the door handle],” he adds.


Entering through the secret door, visitors reach a main lounge area with blue leather seating and parquet flooring of a similar shade. The curved ceiling is wrapped in high gloss cream lacquer. The materials used in the lounge are inspired by first class vehicle cabins and the space comes complete with a golden propeller. Chow shares that a fictional character, Mr. Minza, was created to inspire the design of the cocktail bar. Mr. Minza is a world traveller who met his lover on the plane, and the cocktail bar recreates the scene where the lovers met. “The inner sanctum [of the main lounge] makes reference to the glamour and luxurious experience of first class airplanes,” says Chow. He says that the space embodies the wish that Mr. Minza and his lover will reunite one day. At the centre of the main lounge is a silver-grey marble top counter. The main lounge can accommodate 80 guests.



In the lounge bar is a VIP room that can hold 32 guests. With red seats, an arched ceiling, and walls lined with umbrellas, the space is a playful take on a vintage first class train cabin. “The height of the space is 2100 mm, so we have used the low ceiling as a tool to make the most intimate environment, [like what you would find in] ferry or train cabins,” says Chow. He adds that the classic elements of the cocktail bar have contemporary and playful twists that bring visitors the pleasure of discovering hidden elements.



The service areas of the cocktail bar also feature elements inspired by vehicle cabins. Along the corridor connecting the main lounge area to a private space are washrooms, the kitchen, and the storage area. The doors leading to these spaces are reminiscent of those found in ferry cabins. The bathrooms are also installed with custom-made basins familiar to travellers.


Masquerading as an umbrella shop and with interiors inspired by the romance of travel, Forglove aspires to be a space for a quick escape from reality.

NC Design & Architecture

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