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McDonald’s revamps with a set of four culturally inspired designs. Christie Lee reports.



September 14th, 2015

While flashy graphics and plastic furnishings are de rigueur for just about any McDonald’s franchise around the globe, the American fast food chain is determined to change that with a set of four ‘culturally-inspired’ designs.

Commissioned by McDonald’s APMEA and designed by Hong Kong-based NC Design & Architecture (NCDA) the “Minimal” and “Eatery” themes are being rolled out in Asia Pacific in phases.


The brief given to Nelson Chow of NCDA was to create a concept that was global in its outlook, yet adaptable to the local market.

In adapting the Eatery theme to the China market, Chow put together a quirky assembly of design elements that reminds one of an open air food market. McDonald’s bold graphics elements and shiny laminates were retained, freshly presented next to the use of natural materials such as wood and bamboo, in place of plastics.


“The food displays at McDonald’s are as busy as they are with the bombardment of information. We wanted to develop a design was clean and simple,” Chow says of his design direction for the global chain.


Whimsical elements abound in the dining area: there are partitions reminiscent of Chinese abacus and bamboo canopies inspired by tim sum steamer baskets. Patterns based on Chinese window lattice are also printed onto laminates, which are then used to line the table tops and walls.


The space features custom-made lighting and seating, with the stools resembling button mushrooms, a ubiquitous food item in Chinese cooking. Cashiers are conceived as individual units, rather than propped up on a long linear bench, to narrow the distance between the customer and server.


To cater to different customers, communal tables and benches that seat up to ten have been constructed, along with the usual two and four-seaters. “If you’re someone who finds it awkward to dine alone, then eating at a communal table will actually make you feel like you’re part of a bigger group,” Chow explains.


Seven McDonald’s in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Guangzhou and Fuzhou have already undergone makeovers. Aside from China, the Eatery theme will be introduced to the Korean, Malaysian and Japanese markets.


“Each country can choose to have its own localised version of the palette developed based on its own cultural signature,” Chow says.

NC Design & Architecture

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