From Earth to Architecture: Chuan’s Kitchen II
We had the great pleasure of visiting Chuan’s Kitchen II on a recent visit to Bentu Design in Guangzhou, China. It has outstanding Sichuan cuisine, and the interiors, designed by Infinity Mind with Bentu Design and Nongzao, utilise traditional folk art and waste materials to ignite the contemporary dining environment.
Renowned for experimenting with discarded materials, Bentu Design has established a new sub-brand, Nongzao, that explores traditional processes and techniques and translates them into new building materials and finishes. For Chuan’s Kitchen II, Nongzao created bricks and tiles, with the brick being made from a black earthenware gasket and the tile from soil materials mined during construction of the underground metro.
Black earthenware is a traditional folk art of the people of Yingjing County in Sichuan Province. They use local white clay and abundant anthracite to make black earthenware that is shaped into vessels for cooking. The earthenware is resistant to corrosion and tolerant to acid and alkali, keeping the fresh, delicious taste of Sichuan cuisine during cooking. The tradition of making earthenware subsided during China’s transition to a more industrialised society but has been revived in recent years.
The decorative façade, screen walls and pendants in Chuan’s Kitchen II are made with gaskets used for firing black earthenware. The gaskets – also made of black earthenware – are discarded after seven or eight uses. Nongzao salvaged the gaskets and broke each into three arc-like pieces. These are interlaced and woven to create decorative and rhythmic façade, walls and lighting that highlight the natural texture and colour variation of the earthenware.
Nongzao also recovered mined soil materials from underground metro construction, firing this earth to create tiles. These cover the walls, bar and floor of the restaurant, and have a smooth finish that contrasts with the rough texture of the earthenware gaskets. Bentu Design has previously used waste from the construction of Guangzhou Metro Museum, recycling the rock and soil for city furniture and everyday objects. These pieces not only make use of the natural materials but are also intended to provide objects that can help people to re-establish a valuable connection with their land.
If you’re visiting China we highly recommend dining at Chuan’s Kitchen II and look forward to seeing Nongzao develop more innovative, sustainable products inspired by, and using the traditional processes, techniques and materials of Sichuan culture and cuisine.