La Rambla by Catalunya

Chanelling the spirit of Barcelona's grand boulevard in the heart of Hong Kong

Malibu meets Barcelona meets Soho House. That’s how co-founder Kevin Poon describes his latest venture, La Rambla by Catalunya — a Spanish restaurant located in Hong Kong’s IFC skyscraper offering an updated take on regional Catalan fare. The setting includes an expansive landscaped terrace dotted with Kettal loungers by Patricia Urquiola and sweeping views across Victoria Harbour. Then, without announcement, the space seamlessly transitions into a bright and airy interior comedor, fringed in green-velvet booths, rattan-backed chairs and a lively atmosphere. That the interiors are able to channel a bit of the energy of Barcelona’s La Rambla — the grand pedestrian thoroughfare cutting through the heart of the Catalan capital — in the midst of one of Asia’s most pulsating cities is the genius of Poon’s close collaborator and rising interiors star, Stanley Kwok.

While La Rambla by Catalunya represents Kwok’s first independent restaurant design, don’t be fooled — a veteran hospitality designer with more than 15 years’ experience working with clientele among whom rank hoteliers such as Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La, Kwok was ready for the challenge. ‘We are up and coming, so we like to work with other up and coming talent,’ says Poon of the collaboration, which he says worked wonderfully thanks to ‘great creative chemistry’.

Headlining the space is an art piece by Barcelonan Javier Calleja. ‘We wanted to make the space a little bit more cheerful, not so serious,’ explains Poon. Across the way, a bit of greenery expresses itself in the form of a tree, sprouting as if naturally from an interior planter hoisted between curved-edge booths. Throughout the space, Kwok has injected handmade, tactile details for a material-rich palette; terrazzo flooring with inlaid brass strips and mother-of-pearl shells punctuate the underfoot, while pops of dusky rose and marigold yellow combine with an interior skylight to bring Barcelona’s sun-soaked, Mediterranean atmosphere to Asia Pacific. After sunset, the restaurant takes on an intimate glow, thanks to custom lighting by another up-and-coming local creative: Eugenia Cheng.

Headed by Chef Ferran Tadeo who first learned to sharpen his knives in the legendary galleys of El Bulli, the kitchen features classic and updated Catalan fare and has already proven popular among Hong Kong’s Spanish population, which pleases Poon. ‘La Rambla had such a magical energy when I visited that street. I got inspired and just wanted to bring a little piece of that back to Hong Kong.’

Text / Jessica Vahrenkamp      Images / Edmon Leong