'The Commune Social' at Design Republic in Shanghai, China by Neri&Hu
The Commune Social, located at the Design Republic Design Commune, is a new tapas restaurant designed by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office of Shanghai. The food concept is a fresh and modern take on Spanish tapas, where the small dishes served are refined interpretations of the tapas genre with an international twist.
The design concept of the space is to emphasize the "sharing" idea of eating tapas, and the four distinct areas in the restaurant (the tapas bar, the dining room, the dessert bar and the secret bar) are meant to provide different flavors and ingredients for diners to "share," like they do the food. The diners are encouraged to move from having drinks at the secret bar to the tapas bar or the dining room for dinner before ending up at the dessert bar to finish the meal. Each room serves something different, and each room evokes a different atmosphere.
The four adjoining rooms also provide a communal and social aspect that is in the original spatial concept of the Social restaurant group. (Pollen Street Social in London and 22 Ships in Hong Kong were both also designed by Neri&Hu.) The movable feast idea is a way for diners to be active in the restaurant and engage in social activities while dining.
The design approach is similar to 22 Ships in that Neri&Hu emphasized raw materials to accentuate visual "freshness," while making associations to the freshness and rawness of food. Materials such as raw iron, reclaimed wood, unfinished concrete and exposed bricks all work together to form a tapestry of texture and patterns. While all other spaces take on a rustic industrial rawness, the dessert bar takes on a clinical whiteness, its custom lighting reminds one of a dentist clinic. It is meant to elevate the dessert, served against a clean backdrop, to an "otherworldly" experience of culinary finesse and ecstasy. Then one is reminded of the price of having sweet tooth, thus the reference to a dental clinic.