Bye Bye Barbie!

April 13th, 2011

Just a mere two years after a splashy unveiling of the 6-story mecca to Barbie and all things pink on Shanghai’s hip Huaihai Rd., Mattel has announced that it will be closing the store…and with it goes the sophisticated and funky Barbie Cafe. Those beautiful purple walls and fabulous zigzag tiles. You will be missed!

Your chance to dine and honour Barbie may be gone but see what other fantastic restaurants you can still enjoy in Shanghai or other cities on!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day…tell us all about your romantic day and where you celebrated.
In need of a last minute place to go with friends and/or lovers?

Check out for the best places in your city!

Chinese New Year Feasting

February 1st, 2011

Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit

February isn’t just the month to shower love on your Valentine (but see great Valentine’s options here). It is also the month to celebrate the Chinese New Year honouring the Year of the Rabbit. Read the rest of this entry »

We Want to Hear From You!

July 2nd, 2010


Do you know of hip and stylish restaurants in your town? Share them with us through our website
or email us with all the details:

You can also share tips, comments, and any thoughts with us here on this blog, through Twitter (@DesignEats)
or on Facebook (/

We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Uncommonly Common

July 2nd, 2010

You might look around a restaurant and see plates, bowls, bottles — things that you use everyday but
rarely think about. Some designers however, look at these common objects and see opportunity.

, Los Angeles – Designed by Kelly Wearstler

At Whist in Los Angeles, CA, Kelly Wearstler takes the most common dining object, plates, and uses
them to make dramatic statements on the walls.

Antique plates line the wall at Whist, LA

Antique plates line the wall at Whist, LA

Plates make a statement in the poolside lounge

Plates make a statement in the poolside lounge

, NYC – Designed by Tadao Ando

In New York City, famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando was inspired, not by water (a typical element
in Asian design), but rather by the vessel that contains it, creating an incredible wall feature comprised
of 17,400 half litre bottles filled with mineral water and LED lights for Morimoto.

Impressive wall of plastic bottles

Impressive wall of plastic bottles

Detail of plastic bottles

Detail of plastic bottles


These design features also bring to mind the incredible work of artists like Tara Donovan and Subodh Gupta
who transform common objects, like those used in restaurants all over the world, into beautiful,
unimaginable installation pieces:

Tara Donovan – Haze, 2003, Stacked Clear Drinking Straws
Learn more about the work of Tara Donovan here.

Haze - Wall installation made from straws

Haze - Wall installation made from straws

Haze - Detailed view of straws

Haze - Detailed view of straws

Subodh Gupta – UFO, 2007, made from brass pots
Learn more about the work of Subodh Gupta here.

UFO, made from brass pots

UFO - Created with brass pots

UFO - Detailed view of pots

UFO - Detailed view of pots

Know of a restaurant that features bold statement pieces or accents? Send us your suggestions and
we’ll post them on!


The Provocative Science of Food

July 1st, 2010

Ferran Adrià and His Widening Global Influence

In the small mountain town of Roses, in the Costa Brava region of Spain, adventurous foodies the world over
gather to indulge in the unique and unexpected creations served at the legendary El Bulli where, since 1983,
master chef Ferran Adrià, credited as the father of “molecular gastronomy” has been deconstructing ingredients
and inventing new techniques that explore contrasting temperatures, textures, and flavours to stretch the
boundaries of how we enjoy and experience food.


It may prove a difficult task for the average diner to experience El Bulli firsthand, but interested parties have
no fear! There are a number of Adrià-influenced chefs who have opened restaurants in major cities, bringing
their own flair and special techniques to this avant-garde style of cooking. Read the rest of this entry »

The Building Blocks of Flavour

February 9th, 2010

Chef David Lee of Nota Bene pushes hard for success

David Lee, executive chef/partner at Nota Bene

David Lee is executive chef and co-owner of the acclaimed Toronto restaurant Nota Bene. Lee is a third generation chef who hails from the village of Hertfordshire in England. At 17, he moved to London where he worked at Restaurant Le Soufflé under the tutelage of Executive Chef Peter Kromberg.

Chef Lee moved to Canada when he was 24 and by the age of 29, he made his mark on the Toronto dining scene after acquiring the popular Splendido restaurant with partner Yannick Bigourdan. In 2008, Lee opened Nota Bene with Bigourdan and a third partner, Franco Prevedello.


DE: Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

DL: I think the reality is when you finish school you have to say what do you want to do. I knew one thing. I knew I didn’t want to work in an office and I knew I had to do something with my hands. I guess when you talk to a school, they ask what you love to do and I said I love to cook…my family has a big background of chefs and I knew I wanted to be creative. Read the rest of this entry »

Nota Bene: The Place for Everybody

February 8th, 2010

A chat with co-owner Yannick Bigourdan

Yannick Bigourdan is co-owner of the award-winning restaurant, Nota Bene in Toronto, Canada.

Bigourdan was born in the South of France to a family heavily entrenched in the food industry. After attending the Swiss Hotel School of Lausanne, Bigourdan worked for the Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts in Los Angeles and Toronto. In 2001, Bigourdan partnered with Chef David Lee to acquire the acclaimed restaurant Splendido in Toronto. With a few years of much-lauded success behind them, Bigourdan and Lee partnered with celebrated Toronto restaurateur, Franco Prevedello, to develop Nota Bene — a restaurant that would retain all the high-quality food and service of Splendido but in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Since opening in July 2008, Nota Bene has not seen a night with an empty table. We spoke with Mr. Bigourdan to hear his thoughts on the popularity of his restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »

Vancouver, BC Canada

February 1st, 2010

City Guide — Quick Highlights of a Stunning City

Whether you are heading to cheer on your home team at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, or just going to soak in the natural beauty of the city, Vancouver has something for everyone — a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, a deeply ingrained foodie culture enhanced by the rich multiculturalism of the area, and a growing collective of artists and creative types who are shifting the landscape of design throughout the city.

We teamed up with local designer, H. Jay Brooks from Box Interior Design (read our interview with him here!) to highlight some of the stylish and hip locales for your next visit to this beautiful coastal town. Read the rest of this entry »

Design Focused Design

February 1st, 2010

Box Interior’s H. Jay Brooks
talks about his work in Vancouver, Canada

H. Jay Brooks and his wife, Cynthia Penner, are the design team behind Vancouver’s award-winning firm, Box Interior Design. Their recent projects include Market by Jean Georges, Society Dining Lounge, and the much-lauded Coast Restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »