The city of Chengdu is historically known as the “Land of Abundance”, it has an impressive poetic tradition throughout human history. “Bashi”, a Sichuan local dialect known as “cozy, comfort and authentic”, that perfectly describes the living status in the south west China. Sichuan cuisine has a basis which is derived from everyday flavors, with both freshness and mellow aspects emphasised. In the wake of their facilities established in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the latest Nestlé Professional Customer Engagement Center lauched in Chengdu. As Nestlés’s long-term design partner, Inkmason has combined local architectural characteristics and used a theme based on the “Art of Living” as the guiding principle for the design experience.
“Nestlé Professional “ creates an exclusive experience center for Nestlé’s business alliances to help them better communicate and share experiences with industry experts. Utilizing Nestlé’s products and expertise, the Customer Engagement Center will provide professional culinary consultants for Chinese and Western cuisine, desserts, and beverages. The space also allows Nestlé’s business alliances to discuss business, analyze their consumers, and future challenges. Apart from offering the venue, Nestlé is also dedicated to provide creative, professional, and profitable food and beverage solutions for their Nestlé’s business alliances.
美食别院，丰富层次 Gourmet Richness
The Nestlé Professional Customer Engagement Center has similar functional requirements to the other centers in other cities, and as such has been equipped with a comprehensive set of high-standard facilities including various beverage studios, as well as both Chinese and Western demonstration kitchens.
Since the Chengdu Center will focus on the reinterpretation of local dishes, namely Sichuan cuisine, Inkmason has created a space to enable visitors to get a sense of “Bashu Culture (The regional culture of Sichuan Basin)” experience through the design before waking up their taste buds. To this end, the designer drew inspiration and elements from classic traditional buildings such as Chengdu’s Kuanzhai Alley, Du Fu Thatched Cottage, and Jiuyan Bridge to create a leisurely and unique dining space with a lively atmosphere.
The front of the reception area is bounded by multiple partitions, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of old Chengdu teahouses： bamboo weavings, roof tiles, pots and other everyday local utensils, recalling the sense of local kitchens; traditional objects such as dining cabinets and vegetable baskets are also interspersed. Wide alleyways and weaving craftsmanship brings the flavor of Chengdu streets into this “Gourmet Courtyard”.
With this as a starting point, Inkmason’s design scheme guides visitors step by step to continue to explore the elegantly decorated dining and tasting experience area, as well as the fully functional kitchen with its technical work area.
Based on sequential approach going from the familiar to unfamiliar, from formal to abstract, from everyday to professional, Inkmason incorporates the progressive and rich flavors of Sichuan culture and cuisine, making the most of the Center’s space.
城市客厅，蓉城故事 An Urban Living Room, Capturing the Spirit of Chengdu
The Customer Engagment Center emphasises cultural heritage and visitor interaction, and Inkmason turns it into an urban “living room” of cuisine. “Boutique but refined” is the attitude of life in Chengdu – both the city’s urban spaces and the three schools of Sichuan cuisine share this philosophy. Following this, Inkmason has carefully divided the space, creating a variety of small seating areas where visitors can have a leisurely chat, while the space’s rich and varied decorations faithfully reflect the city’s daily life.
The finely patterned tile and terrazzo floor resembles an ancient southern road, as if various spices have been crushed into the paving; bamboo and wood grids give the walls a harmonious rhythm; and the bar, decorated with blue bricks and ochre tiles, becomes the front face of the reception area. Here, the underlying Chengdu theme is continued; tea and coffee pots are placed side by side on the bar’s counter, in a collision of tastes and in the spirit of cultural exchange – evoking a paradigm of the pursuit of variety and elegance in the art of living.
The elongated central island table faces continuous floor-to-ceiling windows, and has a series of finely crafted chandeliers overhead, combining high design and rustic charm with porcelain, woven bamboo and silver filament bulbs. On either side of the floor-to-ceiling windows are quiet areas, separated from the main space by bamboo screens. There, clay pots and glass jars are matched with modern seating, evoking a traditional refreshing outdoor area from the old days. This verdant bamboo forest represents the spirit of the Sichuan region – bamboo utensils are symbols of the history and culture of the land, while bamboo woven handicrafts represent the developmental and innovative legacy of the city. The art of living can be subtle in its impact on people – but it is engraved deeply in all aspects of everyday reality, including the acts of preparing and consuming food.
超级厨房，专业研发 Professional Research & Development in a “Super Kitchen”
After passing through the peaceful “urban living room”, visitors will arrive at the futuristic “Super Kitchen” equipped with the latest technology for food preparation. This is the inner sanctum where innovation and fusion of different cuisines can take place. Fully-featured Chinese and Western kitchens include specialty equipment for baking, barbecuing, stewing, stir-frying and hotpot. The kitchens also provide ample ventilation, gas, raw and cooked food, food waste disposal facilities, as well as trained chefs, ensuring a smooth and pleasant experience for any number of visitors.
Inkmason has set the hotpot table that best represents Chengdu as an important “prelude” to the professional kitchens, establishing a warm and familiar starting point for the area. The hotpot table and the UFO-like “smoke exhaust-lighting” integrated ceiling fixture have been designed for maximum visual impact – taken together with the two triangular islands, they emphasize the importance of communication during mealtimes. Visitors passing through this array of counters may fully observe the “Super Kitchen” in its entirety： the Chinese kitchen area with its gas-stovetop island as the main component, and the Western kitchen area with its complex equipment and kitchenware in the distance.
The two areas are separated by a Western-style cabinet, which can store a large number of pots and utensils, while the adjacent counter for preparing food is closest to the rear kitchen door. The piping equipment and panel linings responsible for air quality and noise reduction are completely hidden within the ceiling. The use of stainless steel throughout the kitchen lends a uniform purity to the space in both appearance and texture; additionally, the glass enclosure around the range hood has a light, clean appearance and has been integrated with the elements around it.
Overall, the uniform metallic surfaces of the kitchen give the space a professional presence and highlight the color and taste of the ingredients to be used and prepared. Here, international chefs may engage in an exchange of culinary culture with local talents in the catering industry, sparking ideas and giving dishes a new life.
Beginning with the Nestlé Greater China Headquarters in 2009, Inkmason and Nestlé have enjoyed a successful working relationship for 12 years. The results of this ongoing cooperation have been well-received and include： China’s first Nestlé
Professional Customer Engagement Center in Beijing, where cultural aspects are combined with an atmosphere of luxury; the Nestlé Beijing Retail Innovation and Exhibition Center, featuring flowing spaces and a bold, contemporary color scheme; and the Nestlé R&D Center for dairy farm training, inspired by the fluid and layered qualities of the milk which is the basis for so many Nestlé products. The completion of these complex and involved projects have, over time, given Nestlé a unified design concept and a creative approach for the experience of their various spaces – and has also allowed Inkmason to become an expert in brand research and design narratives.
设计团队：Jerry Zhang、Robin Wang、Hank Wu
设计周期：2019.06.15 – 2020.02.18
施工周期：2020.03.08 – 2020.08.06
Project Name：The Nestlé Professional Customer Experience Engagement Exchange Center
Project Address：F2, Building A, Boruichuangyichengdu, Sanse Road, Liujiang Street, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Firm Location：Unit 201.209, Office Building of Tuanjie Apartment No.12 of Tuanjiehudongli, Chaoyang District
Project Type：Interior Design
Chief Designer：Kin Lam
Design Team：Jerry Zhang、Robin Wang、Hank Wu
Design Period：2019.06.15 – 2020.02.18
Construction Period：2020.03.08 – 2020.08.06
Gross floor area (m2)：618.9㎡
Interior space area (m2)：423.8㎡
Photo credit：Vitus Lau