For Two Penny Chinese, our team drew inspiration from 1920’s Shanghai, a period distinctive for its blending of traditional Chinese architecture and streamlined Art Deco, now known as “Chinese Deco”. Elaborate patterns and rich textures are implemented alongside the worn finishes of the historical building Two Penny resides in, bringing an atmosphere of warmth and faded glamour.

Upon entering the space, you pass through a blackened oak moon gate, a classic element of Chinese architecture that represents a connection between two worlds. While modern in design, the gate was executed using traditional dowel joinery and was built entirely by hand. The Chinese Deco styling continues in the vignette of the front server station, an often-overlooked item that was designed as a major feature. Hand glazed, seafoam green tiles and natural wicker caning are juxtaposed with rounded Deco motifs, incorporated in subtle brass inlays into solid teak doors and signature brass handles.

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The classic art deco colour palette of teal and dusty rose are brought into the interior in the form of sumptuous velvets and textured leathers, alongside terracotta red, reminiscent of temple shingles and the Chinese terracotta army. Custom details of note include the curved back benches, the fringed pendant lights, and the fan plaster wall finish which provide a unique backdrop to the oversized scrolls featuring Chinese opera masks from vintage cigarette cards. The bar front is comprised of scalloped concrete tiles specially designed by our design team, the shape inspired by both traditional Chinese armour and Chinese dragon scales.

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Descending into the basement tea house, you are transported to a gritty, hidden enclave lit predominantly by traditional Chinese lanterns strung over the bar and black sconces glazing a custom wallpaper of writhing tigers. The atmosphere is reminiscent of dark alleys and highlights the historical foundation walls, concrete floor and exposed wood structure. The space also features a series of Chinese elm screens, a set of reclaimed brass and etched glass doors, and is accented by a custom wall that is papered with old Chinese posters and advertisements.

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Completed October 2017, Calgary, Alberta

Client: Cody Willis, Thank You Hospitality