Noodle soup is a common street food that is all over China. While most noodle joints spend a tremendous amount of effort to win over customers with the taste of their noodle soup, some have also started to incorporate attractive and modern store designs in their marketing strategy. One good example is Longxiaobao, a newcomer who recently set foot in Changsha with the ambition to spread their local Shaoyang-style rice noodles to the rest of China. Commissioned to come up with a contemporary identity and design for Noodle Rack, incidentally also their first restaurant client, Lukstudio integrates the tradition of noodle-making in the spatial design of the store’s interiors by reinterpreting the noodle rack.
Nestled along an outdoor shopping promenade near the Xiangjiang River, the compact noodle joint exudes a calm yet mysterious presence with a bamboo-cast concrete storefront. Two rustic steel boxes penetrate through the solemn exterior: the taller one is cladded with rusted steel panels, while its shorter neighbour is constructed like a metal scaffold. These three elements together are visually orchestrated to suggest a journey of discovery.
Walking through the entrance, a customer is greeted by a well-composed counter design lined with a bamboo mold used for casting the exteriors. As one proceeds towards the halo surrounding the grid structure, the interior layers start revealing themselves. Firstly, the original wall is stripped down to its structural blocks to resonate with the rustic metal grid. Secondly, wooden boxes are carefully placed within the rack to showcase selected porcelains. Finally, a series of metal wires are draped across the dining room to create a dramatic lighting feature with hanging bulbs. Balanced with the rustic interiors, these reflective strands create a poetic notion of dining under a noodle rack.
Playing with the duality between rustic and refined, eastern tradition and western representation, Lukstudio introduces a crossover between a fast food chain and an upscale diner. Noodle Rack differentiates itself from the stigma of a kitsch fast food “hole in the wall” on every street of China. It demonstrates just how Chinese eateries can also have the potential to be reborn into hip gathering spots not unlike the ubiquitous café.