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Indonesian Cool Hits Sai Ying Pun

Aisha Speirs

Renowned for its cutting-edge design and hosting some of pop’s biggest names, including John Legend and Ellie Goulding, the Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak is a popular hangout for many hip holidaymakers on the Indonesian island of Bali. Owned by hospitality and lifestyle brand PTT Family, Potato Head launched in Hong Kong this month, its first outside Southeast Asia. Spanning more than 8,000 square feet, it houses a restaurant, café/bar, coffee shop, music room and retail space.

Located in the trendy area of Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong Island, Potato Head Hong Kong was designed by Tokyo-based architect Sou Fujimoto and showcases his signature flourishes, including metal frame structures and hanging plant boxes, which are juxtaposed against custom-made Indonesian furniture and antiques. The venture represents a partnership between PTT Family and Hong Kong hospitality brand JIA Group, whose restaurants include Aberdeen Street Social and 208 Duecento Otto. Creative Director Aisha Speirs explains how the Hong Kong venture will serve as a blueprint for future overseas outlets.

Why did you decide to open Potato Head in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong has long been an entrepôt to Asia for countries across the globe. As our first outpost outside of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong is a place where our guests in Indonesia and Singapore live or visit. But it’s also a great place to introduce Potato Head to a wider international audience. Our Hong Kong offering will also show us how Potato Head’s destinations will evolve in city environments.

How did you end up choosing Sai Ying Pun as the location for your Hong Kong outlet?
Sai Ying Pun is really diverse; it’s a lovely mix of heritage buildings and new restaurants, and we love that contrast. It’s very much part of our demographic. The space itself was the initial draw, but we also liked the fact that Sai Ying Pun is on the cusp of development. We hope it will be a hang-out for students as well as hipster types. The coffee shop opens onto the street, as we want to engage with the local community and make them feel like this is a space welcome to all.

Tell us about the space’s design concept.
Sou is a conceptual architect rather than a pragmatic one, and we wanted him to design a space that is democratic and accessible, and literally open up the space to the public. The design concept is based on how we’d imagine a nice big apartment and it feels different depending on the time of day. During the day, we want people to hang out in our big comfy seats, or enjoy some of the classes we’ll be setting up such as flower-arranging and yoga.

Vinyl is a big part of the Potato Head identity, and we want kids to see how music used to be before MP3s and iPods via our music programmes. Our music director Johnny Hiller will organise live vinyl DJs every Wednesday to Sunday, while “Album Sundays” in June will include an Ethiopian Jazz Special and there was an open deck special. We want to champion Hong Kong DJs and musicians.

We’re not about being too cool for school, but providing a space for people who haven’t got time to go to beaches like Shek O or Sai Kung. There’s no attitude, it’s just about having a nice time.

What’s on the menu at your restaurant Kaum?
Our chef Antoine Audran has spent decades living in Indonesia, travelling around the archipelago and wants to bring traditional Indonesian ethnic dishes to Hong Kong that are usually hard to come by, such as those cooked in bamboo and wrapped in banana leaves, as well as typical plates like mie goreng. We also have different types of [classic Indonesian spicy accompaniment] sambal, including one that’s lemongrass-based and another flavoured with salted fish.

Will you be opening more Potato Head outposts in the Asia-Pacific?
We’re looking at Australia and Japan, but it will take a while. We recently opened the first Potato Head hotel, Katamama, which is adjacent to the beach club, and there are two more hotels slated to open in 2018 and 2019.

Related Links
Potato Head
PTT Family

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