By Thio Lay Hoon ID Magazine
Vestibule at the entrance. The marble stairway is a reference to the entrance steps at the Imperial City, flanked by a dragon fish wrought-iron railing that continues inside the room. [ It has to be a dragon fish as only one dragon would be bad feng shui! ]
Click images for a larger view
Photography : Peter Mealin
China Jump Bar + Grill
China Jump has closed July 2005
C H I N A I N T H E J U M P
'You might call it a sort-of Hard Rock Cafe without Elvis but Mao instead!' That's Ed Poole, sticking his tongue in his cheek to sum up a one liner to describe the interior concept for China Jump at Chijmes. Partner Andrew Jones likens it to 'an American sports bar in Shanghai.'
Such irreverence is not without some justification; China Jump is, after all, a place to let one's hair down, indulge in happy fluids, and basically have a rowdy good time. In the day, when it's not a club, it's a fun place to have a nice lunch, working or otherwise.
The interior design scheme was derived directly from the name of the bar-and-grill itself, and the general image studied from field trips to the Jump in Hong Kong. Inevitably, there are the gratifying pastiche of familiar things old and modern, for instance, faded posters of 'modern' cheongsam-garbed women in comely poses, red star logo, decorative wooden screens, wittingly put together for a contemporary 'eatertainment' theme. But the structural - filigree-screen clad columns, fat-bottom white-plaster balustrades and railing surrounding the dance floor, entrance stairway of marble - suggest building forms that are recognizably modern Chinese, a bit of Shanghai in the 30's and 40's, if you will.
China Jump counts readily as an item in Poole Associates' series of 'New Asian' design concepts which began with the Blue Ginger Restaurant (1994); on the list is also Qhue and the up and coming House of Mao. In their "New Asian" concepts, 'the Asian features are very subtle, and not in your face'.
The clients referred the designers specifically to The Jump in Hong Kong from which five characteristics were to be retained: the up-and-down box booths, the raised island bar, the dentist's chair, the sunken dance floor, and a private function room. 'That was the basic parameters', says Ed, 'and NO paraphernalia on the walls. No more of the bric-a-brac, because these are too hard to maintain, too hard to source, and too expensive; the clients thought that they are not necessary in this part of the world'.
Ease of maintenance was a high priority. 'The idea is to take out the problem (of maintenance) which they faced in their existing outlets; for example, the timber floors, brass handrails, and cute little bric-a-brac's which have been mentioned'. The designers were told, 'take out all those things, and come out with an alternative which is economical and maintenance free'. 'So how do you keep a room, which is used by 1,500 people on a daily basis, from falling apart? That was the tough part. I mean, really, only time will tell how that will hold up'.
Eager to produce a fresh design, the designers 'went through a couple of new ideas, like using the red neon over the kitchen window', and then opening it up and making it an 'exhibition' kitchen. 'I quite like the way the neon worked. It casts a really nice color onto Asian skin'.
To create a 'sunken' dance floor, a lot of construction was carried out to raise the flooring for the general seating, booths, bar and Function Room. 'We ended up doing a planning scheme that was more amphitheatre style, where everybody looks down the center towards the main activity which is on the dance floor'. As briefed, tiles instead of timber were used, as in the rest of the flooring. A feature of interest might be the railing encircling the dance floor. It actually begins in the small vestibule area from where one enters the club or restaurant (depending on the time of the day) Leading up to the Function Room is a sort-of miniature grand marble staircase. The wrought-iron handrail for this staircase is shaped as a dragon -or rather a 'dragon-fish', because only one dragon on its own is bad feng shui - to represent prosperity, with its tail going up the staircase and continuing inside the place, 'whipping around the room, around the bar, encircling the dance floor. Like a metaphorical dancing dragon'.
All the furniture and fittings in the place were custom-designed and ordered, including the pretty little Chinese lamps which are pre-programmed to turn from a warm yellow to a funky blue when evening falls. Something wonderful needs to be said of Ed Poole's bent for re-adapting the old. The aged timber used in the paneling came from the ceiling of The Church of The Holy Good Shepherd across the road, which was also undergoing renovation at the time. 'The contractor was dumping some of this timber at the yard to be hauled away. We thought, wouldn't it be convenient if we take these and recycle them to retain their lifespan for a little bit longer. And sure enough, we ended up being able to purchase them. The timber must be at least 250 years old, because the planks were 24ft. (7.2 meters) long; you can not get this length of timber these days, the trees are not big enough'. Thus, the wood was salvaged for a new life-lease. 'Who knows what will happen after China Jump. Somebody else might get the idea, and then recycle our product into yet another project when this lease is up in six years'.
Project Design Team :
Poole Associates Private Limited
Ed Poole, Andrew Jones, Rey Tadifa, Wong Kim Mei, Willy Baet
T 65 | 6536 | 3928
View from one of the booths, looking towards the kitchen seen through an opening-with-serving counter above which hovers a red neon sign. The dentist chair, cryptic 'tho its presence is, is not merely decorative. Below : The Function Room with lattice screens.