Design Focus: Shanghai Oriental

by Nicola Walker

Shanghai Oriental is Larkhall’s newest offering and the sister restaurant of Bothwell’s Shanghai Teahouse. Situated on the towns Union Street, the former Royal Bank of Scotland building has been transformed into a 65-seated restaurant offering “authentic Chinese food straight from Shanghai.”

The whole façade has been reimagined and features clean lines smartly branded with the name and gold logo. Once making your way through the large entrance and opening the glass doors the interior is bright and extremely welcoming. A sea of orange, mustard, blue and wooden elements blend seamlessly to create a BC1B2ACC-B0CB-4F92-91A2-231F1083126Fmodern, cosy look. In the centre there is a large ellipse shaped island with booth seating which runs almost the full length of the restaurant.

This seating is beautifully upholstered in a dusky blue plush fabric and is fluted all the way along. The backs of these booths are lower than the average size, aligning with current restaurant trends. Around the booth seating there are tables, both round and square, which are a lighter brown with an almost brushed gold, marbled finish.

The chairs on the other side of the tables are mustard coloured velvet dining chairs. The island is also topped with a mix of gold, silver and black cages and lanterns that double as candle holders. Some of these have a vintage look, and some are modern. The design of the centre area is echoed on the left-hand side of the restaurant, with booth seating against the wall, facing outwards, and tables lining them.

Behind these, there are hollows in the wall which have been filled with mirrors with a distressed vintage rose effect. There are also lovely Chinese pottery urns decorating these gaps. There is more seating at the front of the restaurant with larger round tables and taupe bucket style chairs. Behind this is just one of the great pieces of artwork within the restaurant. A 2.7 m long traditional Chinese landscape in a wooden frame – it truly is breathtaking.


The wall behind this painting is a bare brick wall and these feature throughout the venue, blending in with both the wood and orange hues. The other walls are painted in a steel blue, echoing the colour of the booth upholstery.

The right-hand side of the restaurant features a bar at the rear which has an almost rose gold glass panelled affect. This has a smart black top and behind this the well-stocked gantry is made from glass as well. In front of this bar is one of my favourite elements in the design, the wine racks. Here, they have used the same material as the black metal ceiling frames and created floor to ceiling poles with little brackets to hold horizontal wine bottles. One thing that immediately strikes you is the attention to detail of the artwork and smaller features.

BADF0EE8-6C7B-4C06-A53C-16E0075CB795There are beautiful abstract custom prints on the walls of Chinese ladies and these all match the colour scheme of the entire restaurant. There is also a feature wall with two, made to measure, large dark wooden Chinese graphic symbols. The final nod to artistry goes to the waiting area, which also acts as an overflow area for the restaurant. Here there is a delightful wall of framed panda prints including Banksy’s Panda Holding Guns.

The lighting has been incredibly well thought out and is both warm and cosy. Different types of long pendant lights have been used in all the areas to create a unique effect. In the centre there are large wicker cages, along the side there are long sleek cylindrical metal cages with white internal shades and at the front there are more bulbous metal cages with stunning vertical long filament bulbs.

The bar area lights are also beautiful with around 15 smaller gold metal pendants which are all hung at differing levels. Candles are used to enhance the warm feel and there are both leafy plants and cherry blossom dotted around the venue, as well as green foliage hanging from the ceiling in some areas. Shanghai Oriental has been a collaboration with celebrity Chef, Jimmy Lee, (pictured) who is a regular chef on ITV’s This Morning.

D38EC40F-4CAF-418A-A581-AB3809E9540EWhen I visited Jimmy was also on site and so I asked him what he thought about the design. He says, “It’s modern, old fashioned, quirky and traditional all the same time – we wanted to make it different.” Well, they have certainly done that, and I for one will be popping back for dinner in the very near future !


Category: Design, Features, News, Restaurant
Tags: Jimmy Lee, Shanghai Oriental, Shanghai Teahouse