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Donoratico Café

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Xin Tian Di is a thriving retail and dining precinct remodeled from a 100 year old village in Foshan. Donoratico’s fashion boutique and café occupy both levels of a traditional house at the corner of one of the many cobbled pedestrian streets and leafy laneways.

The brand’s signature ethos is evident at first glance, relaxed elegance overlaid with contemporary and traditional inspirations. The colonial façade and brick annex contrasting against modern frameless glass windows that showcase the latest fashion with curated vintage elements and modern art.

Timothy Oulton Studio were engaged to envisage the upper floor café as an extension of the brand experience, offering customers everyday hospitality in a relaxed but dynamic environment that could also host fashion previews and collection launches.

An existing internal staircase connects the ground floor retail spaces to the new café. The stairwell has been fully upholstered with a patchwork of natural pigment dyed fabrics inspired by a range of the brand’s fashion garments. These soft forms contrast against the reclaimed timber treads and a central tower of perforated metal that create a glowing lantern at its axis.

Guests arrive into the main space at a large-scale ceiling mural inspired by vintage blueprints and festooned with drawings of exotic sea creatures surrounding detailed plans of an 8 meter sub-marine that runs the entire length of the room.

Under this ocean of blue, richly veined red marble tables, supple leather arm chairs, some loosely thrown with sheep skin hides are arranged to form intimate settings that can be rearranged for couples, small groups or events.

Paved with honed marble mosaics, the floor has also been inlaid with a brass trail that traces the sinuous journey of the iconic Yangtze River, central to Chinese history and ancient myths. Together these materials with themes of water and history also evoke the Italian town of Donoratico, namesake of the brand and the artisanal village in Tuscany famed for timber boat making.

The main café area opens with bi-fold arched doors to a long verandah that overlooks the alleyways and brick houses of the once labyrinthine village. Crystal chandeliers, classic woven bistro chairs and marble tables create an elegant but casual atmosphere for drinks on balmy summer evenings.

A separate external staircase also provides access from the street to the brick annex at the other end of the building. In this main space a brass topped communal table and barista station sit beneath a cascading shower of 200 hundred rock crystals, each lit by an individual LED. Here, the original brick walls together with the terracotta tile and beam ceilings have been left exposed and contrast with the large original artworks painted by Ding …… the brands co-founder and lead designer.

Inside the moody washrooms translucent glass doors printed with a Caravaggio painting form the cubicles with Selenite chandeliers, a rock crystal inception infinity mirror and a hewn stone farm trough repurposed above new brass framing used for the basin.

Accessed through the main stairwell the roof garden glimpses the surrounding tiled roofs amongst lush treetops with terracotta tables, fairy lights and umbrellas configured for night time events and private parties.


Date Completed
Foshan, China

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