Designing a restaurant experience which makes you feel like you’re sitting in a story

Branding collides with performance art, architecture and set design in Erchen Chang's Nicer Tuesdays talk on Bao.

13 April 2021


On the last Tuesday of March 2021, we were joined by two creative powerhouses to talk us through two iconic brands. First on the stage was Erchen Chang, creative director and co-founder of the famed London restaurant Bao. The restaurant’s beginnings are a rather unusual story as Erchen and her husband Shing Tat Chung first met at The Slade, where Bao’s branding story first begins. In her highly insightful talk, Erchen took us through the Bao universe where the brand’s famous logo, the Lonely Man, originates. Overlapping branding with fine art and performance art, the tale of Bao’s branding is not your usual design story. She explained how a brand can be truly unexpected and even melancholy – a word not typically used by branding gurus.

Over time, the Bao universe has introduced a number of characters to accompany the Lonely Man, each with a uniquely rich back story, which then makes its way into the visual story of the restaurant. Architectural history, set design and complex visual narratives work all come into this too, and in her talk Erchen touches on the thematic inspiration behind the work too. Exploring ideas of male fragility, the scarcity of male tears and the comfort of food, Erchen carefully intertwines these narratives throughout the visual language. At the end of the talk, Erchen answers questions on how she briefs in other illustrators to work on Bao projects, and discusses her thoughts on how branding can be ironic with negative connotations.

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Further Info

Nicer Tuesdays is our monthly event of creative talks. You can find out more here.

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