PROJECT: ENSUE BY CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW & ALCOVE AT ENSUE

DATE: MAY 2017 - AUGUST 2019

LOCATION: 40TH FLOOR, FUTIAN SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, SHENZHEN, CHINA

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DESIGN STORY OF ENSUE

I visited Chef Christopher Kostow in the spring of 2018 at his farm in St. Helena, CA. During our initial design briefing conversation for Ensue, he asked me “what is your definition of luxury?”. My response was that, to me, emotion evokes the greatest sense of luxury, as identifying luxury itself is a very deep and personal response to something. Chef Kostow then pointed to a tree in his farm and told me that that was his luxury. At that moment, I made up my mind that in the process of designing his restaurant I was going bring an unpretentious naturalism into the urban landscape of Shenzhen that would be emotive, yet effortless.

Inspired by the aesthetics of wabi-sabi, Chef Kostow represents his cuisine in the most simple form, but with the most intricate philosophy. In the design mechanism of Ensue, I aim to find a new emotional representation of luxury, achieved through unifying local vernacular, with contemporary ideas. A fusion of eastern ideas and philosophy, with western execution will create a space that evokes a new sense of style and elegance. This concept, executed with a wabi-sabi aesthetic that celebrates transience and imperfection, cohesively suggests “a Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.” – Leonard Koren. Furthermore, the space embodies an interesting interaction between the ideas of fire and ice; two sensory, visual and conceptually jarring circumstances, that are unified in a way to create a calming sense of balance.

In Ensue, I also personified many design intentions based on my Chinese upbringing. I explored the work of local artisans and manufacturers around Canton region, to rethink and redefine the modern meaning of Made-in-China in the design industry. With more pride and few disappointments, Ensue really evokes a new thinking of my culture that until now, is yet to be explored in relation to design. Being so personal, this entire process was an emotional one. This project is my new definition of “luxury”.

As complicated as it may sound to you, I take great pleasure in inviting you on this journey curated by Chris Shao Studio; as the name states, to discover the emotional response that will Ensue. 

----------- CHRIS SHAO


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As you enter Ensue, guests are immediately introduced to the natural landscape of Napa, along with Cantonese influences that honor the heritage of Shenzhen. Simple and natural elements engage the guest with a As you enter Ensue, guests are immediately introduced to the natural landscape of Napa, along with Cantonese influences that honor the heritage of Shenzhen. Simple and natural elements engage the guest with a new experience of fine dining, by way of redefining a luxurious and opulent experience with a more naturalistic aesthetic that still embodies refined detail. A moody landscape mural that has been hand-painted by a local artist is the main feature of this dramatic entrance. It depicts a foggy scene, adorned with horsehair sconces by Apparatus, that immediately sets the tone of the restaurant - a dark, cosy and intimate setting, that allows you to only view nature as nothing but luxury. Equally as dramatic, the chandelier by Rosie Li Studio that greets guests as soon as they enter the front doors, presents another naturalist element, this time using modern elements and techniques. Floral sculptures soften the mood of the space, but are strongly defined by the use of polished brass metal.


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In the Main Dining Room, Ensue, a grey and neutral color palette allows the food and flavor to shine. Where color is lacking, effortless detail has been incorporated through millwork, wall paneling, and structure to create a refined and sophisticated room that is the heart and soul of the project. The fertile nature of Shenzhen and the canton region is referenced in the space through warm lighting accents and luxurious textiles. Natural elements are also introduced into a modern design, through materials and furnishings, as well as a custom branch lighting fixture that connects the double height space with the bar above, and gives the feeling of the local landscape being elevated 40-floors above the bustling city below. The atmosphere of this restaurant is heavily influenced by the idea of Twilight in Napa. Not only is the ambiance of the space enhanced during this hour, but the colors, lighting and intimacy of the Dining Room evokes that time of day just after the sun has set. The hue of the mountains translates through the color pallette of the finishes and furnishings, and the custom wall sconces and banquette lightings utilize an exposed filament lamp to imitate the glow of the setting sun.


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With a total height of 13-meters (43-feet) the program was able to include an entirely new structure to accommodate a bar and lounge, now known as Alcove. So that the Main Dining Room of Ensue could maintain the full extent of the window height, the mezzanine floor was set back to allow for the light and views to filter in. As a result, the upstairs bar and lounge is provided with a balcony to observe out and down, and the two spaces become interconnected even though their aesthetic and feel are vastly different. A custom branch light fixture hangs into the upper portion of Ensue’s double height space, and is masterfully countered over the railing above, providing a singular round lamp to illuminate the first of the lounge tables that line the railing. Because of the abundance of natural light, a light wood has been used throughout to capture the essence of dawn; the first light of the day. At night time, during Alcove’s peak operating hours, the lightness of materials allows for exaggerated low level lighting to create a moody and intimate setting in such an expansive space.


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PROJECT: MULTI-FAMILY LUXURY BUILDING

DATE: JUNE 2018 - FALL 2020

LOCATION: 111 VARICK STREET, NEW YORK, NY

IN THE PROCESS