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Charlie & Rose stray from the norm with TMK

Japanese dining goes grungy at Hong Kong temakeria TMK, where Charlie & Rose took design inspiration from 1980s Japanese punk rock.

Charlie & Rose


September 4th, 2019

Hong Kongers in search of an immersive and surprising Japanese dining experience have a new option in TMK – a basement temakeria just opened in the popular dining district of Sheung Wan. Interior design firm Charlie & Rose have created a grungy, whacky interior inspired by 1980s Japanese punk rock.

TMK Charlie & Rose

“We wanted to develop a contemporary Japanese concept that would go beyond the safe minimal norm,” says Charlie & Rose founder and designer, Ben McCarthy. Freshly made temaki rice rolls and signature cocktails are served in a space of metal and wooden furniture, walls with graffiti, and electric lighting.

TMK Charlie & Rose

Charlie & Rose say they developed a narrative around the often-seen image of a Japanese salaryman or an average Japanese person asleep on the train after work. The design is a depiction of what they might be dreaming about – a home that is a bit retro-futuristic, a bit Bruce Wayne.

“This was a liberating project for us because the concept is so dynamic and there was a lot of room for expressive freedom,” McCarthy says.

TMK Charlie & Rose

They began with a deep dive into punk rock. The space is filled with punk paraphernalia including pop art stickers and graffiti. Full-sized robots, a custom Japanese motorcycle in a glass display, and an ice-filled trough for sake bottles set within a communal table inform a very casual dining experience.

TMK Charlie & Rose

Guests are encouraged to add to the graffiti and the bathroom is tattoo-inspired. The overall palette at TMK is retro, with a lot of the colour inspired by vintage Japanese toys such as tin robots.

TMK Charlie & Rose

The design also features “daggy” or pre-loved, unfashionable materials in different ways. Wooden and metal furniture features a burr veneer and millwork, while alabaster is used in contemporary light fittings.

TMK Charlie & Rose

McCarthy says one of Charlie & Rose’s favourite aspects of TMK is the non-typical bar arrangement with a centre table and cocktail station to one side: “It’s a great interactive experience with other guests and bartenders.”

TMK Charlie & Rose

Charlie & Rose say the fast-paced restaurant scene in Hong Kong – where new outlets open every week – means the expectations of clients and customers constantly increases. They look for something unique; which is why Charlie & Rose concentrate on work that is “eclectic, highly detailed, and tongue-in-cheek.”

TMK Charlie & Rose

“Whenever I step into TMK, I never want to leave,” says Manuel Palacio, Co-founder of Pirata Group, which is behind the restaurant. “From the crazy interior and the wacky team with never-ending enthusiasm to the great food, we always have a good time and we hope that the people of Hong Kong will come to love the restaurant as much as we do.”

Photography courtesy: Charlier & Rose

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