The ‘bite-size’ boutique
Unashamedly glamorous, incredibly luxurious and elegant, The Parlour is a ‘ bite size’ restaurant that has become the place to be seen amongst Seoul’s fashionistas and business high flyers. Created by JHP, the boutique restaurant blends food and fashion i
Set in the basement of the headquarters of SPC Corporation, South Korea’s largest restaurant chain operator, the recently launched ‘The Parlour’ is possibly the best kept secret in town. Born from an idea developed between SPC Corp and JHP, the design firm was commissioned to bring the whole experience to life. The design agency developed the complete brand architecture- its name, its identity, graphics and photographic suite, the store concept, its visual merchandising, uniforms, menus, packaging, and service style. To bring in the best cuisine, JHP researched London’s portfolio of top chefs and brought in Mickael Weiss to develop the all-day menu, flying him out to train SPC’s award winning team of executive chefs. According to Austin McGinley, Head of Marketing, JHP, “The initial business objective was to develop a brand new format for a country ( South Korea) where there is no equivalent of a ‘tea-room’. But it was also to take the notion further, to conceive a brand new experience that brought together the worlds of ‘food’ and ‘fashion’ in a suitably upmarket environment.” The Parlour operates as a light coffee stop in the morning, a destination for lunch, serves canapés and cakes during the afternoon tea slot, and culminates in a venue for champagne, cocktails and desserts at night. The ultimate design brief was to create ‘the bite-size boutique’, a very grand and luxurious space which will be the new destination for the well-heeled ladies of Seoul to visit. “As part of our work, we developed four cornerstone values upon which to design the concept. They were ‘indulgence’, ‘feminine’, ‘artistic’ and ‘luxury’. Everything about our work on the brand identity, the interior and the experience was to impart the offer with a timeless elegance, and have it steeped in femininity, authenticity and quality,” Austin explains. Spread over 500sqm, The Parlour is set at the basement of SPC Corporation’s HQ with its entrance from the street down a flight of stairs through an inviting design feature.
Speaking more about the entrance, Austin
says, “The major challenge was to drive footfall from the street, so we reconfigured the staircase and made the entrance threshold as attractive and inviting as possible. This was achieved by creating a glamorous staircase, elegantly illuminated right down to the storefront, with a beautiful exterior chandelier light feature overhead.” The store facade has imposing glazed back open windows on all levels that draw attention to the store front. The store front has a revolving door and an illuminated LED sign to brand the destination as ‘The Parlour’. The experience starts from the restaurant entrance with customers’ coats being taken. The interior is designed around different concept configurations to accommodate different guest needs. “The spaces and seating arrangements are defined by the customer’s mission. For grab and go, they can be served at the counters, or alternatively they can choose to dine by the banquette seating at the perimeter, or in the heart of the restaurant at the raised banquette, or dwell longer seated at more relaxed café style seating or in the intimate snug,” Austin explains. The restaurant’s interiors spell luxury and fashion with renditions of elegant design elements in glossy finishes. A spectacular bespoke glass chandelier with a contrasting silver leaf backdrop maximises its impact from the ceiling. An environment created with white marble flooring and white walls help contrast highlights on the ceiling, wall and flooring with the use of objects d’art, patterned wallpaper, hand blown glass pendant lamps and timber flooring. “JHP designed counters in the form of traditional French ‘country tables’, clad in white marble tops. All furniture was sourced from Europe, with a truly eclectic mix of traditionally upholstered timber frame furniture and modern pieces. JHP also specified an acoustic ceiling to be installed throughout the store to ensure a degree of intimacy for conversations and to reduce the impact from some of the harder finishes. The use of drapes, rugs and decorative cushions also help to soften the experience,” says Austin. The food is served on fine bone china in a beautifully set table where the designers put together period furniture, crockery, artwork, fashion books and magazines with great attention to detail. Classic elements such as cake trolleys, silver tea pots, dessert trays, fashion photography and illustrations adorn and help complete the Parlour’s rooms and public spaces with great design conviction.
The lighting concept plays a very significant role in adding drama and opulence. A combination of concealed cove ambient lighting, accented art lighting from arty fixtures and edge lighting from concealed lighting help create a dramatic presentation of the store.
Speaking about the dining experience offered at The Parlour, Austin explains that the service
style is akin to a ‘Maitre d’ service. “The restaurant’s staff is highly knowledgeable of the menu and due to the restaurant’s ‘fashion’ credentials, are dressed with flair, panache and ooze class.” With great feedback on the quality of the food, the service and the interior experience, The Parlour has gained lots of coverage in the Asian press and media. “The entire experience of The Parlour is based around fashion. Creating extraordinary food is what SPC Group excels at so bringing these two elements together was very exciting prospect for us. Since opening we have seen the store being used for new fashion and product launches, as a glamorous meeting venue, or for night caps. And that is exactly what we set out to achieve,” stated JHP
Managing Director Steve Collis. The Parlour, interestingly for SPC Group who runs thousands of restaurants across Asia, is not for roll-out and the concept is designed so that it could be repeated in the world's most fashionable cities
The use of drapes, rugs and decorative cushions also help to soften the experience 43
The restaurant’s interiors spell luxury and fashion with renditions of elegant design elements in glossy finishes
A combination of concealed cove ambient lighting, accented art lighting from arty fixtures
44 and edge lighting from concealed lighting help create a dramatic presentation of the store