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On a small traditional Hong Kong street of eateries and restaurants in Shau Kei Wan, Madera Cafe is a modern and stylish addition to the neighbourhood. Its design and detailing offer pointers to old Hong Kong and the history of the café’s owners.

Run by The Hip Shing Hong (Holdings) Company, Madera Cafe is a nostalgic look back in time. Establishing Yee Tak Sesame Factory in 1920s, its founder Fong Shu Chuen traded in sesame and cinnamon. This period of development is reminiscent by the bottles and jars filled with black/white sesame seeds and sticks of cinnamon, which populate on the wall and the shelves of the café, and they form the handles on the doors of the bathrooms. The dark rattan chairs evoke fond memories of the Fong family’s early beginnings as rattan traders when they established the business.

A moving neon feature wall faces the kitchen depicting a fire that grows bigger and bigger before being dissipated by lit shards of rain. The sesame factory was tragically destroyed by fire, though this event also provided an opportunity for the Fong family – the rebuilding, it turned out, was a golden opportunity to gain experience in property development, and in 1948 the Fongs launched property development company Hip Shing Hong. Rectangular and triangle-shaped boxes made from rattan form a hanging display on the ceiling depicting a city skyline refers exactly to this transition from trading into property.

The façade of folding windows offers semi alfresco seating while the earthy-toned interiors and dark-hued furniture lend it a contemporary feel. The interiors have been created mainly in wood for a light, clean and natural feel and in a nod to the café’s name – madera is the Spanish for wood. Seating options include low tables and comfortable, relaxing step seating beneath the feature wall, and visitors can enjoy healthy, locally sourced, sustainably produced food and drinks such as Redback coffee, and beers from Hong Kong’s MOONZEN brewery.

The designer has also incorporated his own artworks into the design. An artist in his former life, Stefano Tordiglione’s sensual black and white paintings depicts masculinity, Flandrin, and femininity, Ang. Both are featured in the male and female washrooms respectively.

The distinctive design concept at Madera Cafe not only subtly speaks to the history of the brand but also manifests in a welcoming, relaxing and stylish café. Madera is a memorial, expertly design so that despite the small space, the story comes out in the details. Stefano Tordiglione pays tribute to a diverse family history through an interior that is clean and simple, yet symbolic.

Interior Design Studio: Stefano Tordiglione Design Ltd
Chief Designer: Stefano Tordiglione, Kenneth Tam
Photo: Kenneth Tam

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