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Elle Decor Italia

A Grand Budapest Hotel-inspired café in China

Chengdu café features interiors inspired by Wes Anderson’s celebrated movie

china-bar-inspired by-the-grand-budapest-hotel-by-wes-anderson
Courtesy photo: James Morgan

Marble surfaces with geometric elevations and pastel hues in the new Budapest Café by studio Biasol Chengdu, China, inspired by Wes Anderson’s movie The Grand Budapest Hotel

Do you remember The Grand Budapest Hotel, the famous 2014 movie by US director Wes Anderson, set immediately before World War I, featuring two concierges as the leading characters? In the city of Chengdu, in China, Australian studio Biasol have designed, in their turn, The Budapest Café, entirely inspired by the author and movie’s aesthetics. A 178sqm café that manages to translate the celebrated filmmaker’s vivid, pastel-colored stylistic features into precise interior design choices, besides paying homage to Melbourne café culture. The result is fresh, international-flavored, modern and above all extravagant – exactly like all of Anderson’s characters.

“I wish I could live within a Wes Anderson movie, symmetrical framings and music by The Kinks”, reads a verse from Wes Anderson, a song by the Roman pop band I Cani. The fact that a certain ironic taste for symmetry is one of the movie director’s hallmarks is further confirmed by the way studio Biasol describes the approach employed for The Budapest Café: “We started by understanding Anderson’s style: his symmetrical, precise, bizarre designs; the lively, nostalgic color palette; and, above all, the feeling he manages to convey by his films. He usually tends towards perspectives with one only vanishing point, overlooking the scene from above. He devotes great attention to each detail – to the center of each scene as much as to its periphery; and he frames his stories by using proscenium arches.”  

For this reason, the studio have chosen, in order to decorate the façade of The Budapest Café, an arch that frames the entrance, welcoming guests in and evoking a feeling of grandeur. The interior design is both physical and strikingly tactile, with a predominance of marbles by Artedomus. The setting has been conceived almost as a stage where each customer “can enter and experience their own story”.

“Different layers and heights as well as other elements encourage customers to explore space”, studio Biasol designersexplain. The café features a series of “staircases and steps seemingly leading to the upper floor, which are integrated into the shelves, fireplaces and in the long marble counter, and, in reality, do not lead anywhere”. Here, too, we can find symmetrically arranged arched structures with recessed seating and shelves. The mezzanine level offers views of the Meizai stools and the Nerd Dining Chairs by Muuto from above. 

The general playfulness is guaranteed by the presence of a small tank full of pink balls, an original Eero Aarnio Bubble armchair and neon signs. The restrooms feature a lively color palette including pink speckled marbles by Signorino, providing a beautiful juxtaposition with the light green, nostalgic tones of the cafeteria. 

Despite the ceiling heights and exposed structure with its chic elegance and indulgent, relaxed atmosphere, The Budapest Café features a minimalist, light and funnily whimsical look. Just as the mythical Grand Budapest Hotel, this new Chinese, Wes Anderson-inspired place-to-be has been designed “to offer customers a safe haven from everyday hustle and bustle but also – with its deliberately feminine style - as a hangout for social media-savvy females who enjoy café culture”.  

Besides its design and soft yet contrasting color palette, the café branding, too – including signs, menus and printed material – makes the place even similar to the characters created by the beloved US filmmaker. Characters that, though a bit idiosyncratic, as I Cani sing in one of their songs, “are never really evil, just as the enemies are not real enemies. At the same time, the good ones are not really good, either – just as you and me.” 



by Roberto Fiandaca / 12 January 2018


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