Ming Fat House’s restaurant concepts include Mrs. Pound, the secret locksmith shop restaurant in Sheung Wan that marries classic Asian flavours with contemporary flair; Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour, the artisanal gin bar led by the Bar Manager Paul Chan, and Foxglove, the hidden French restaurant and bar reminiscent of the great speakeasies of the Prohibition Era. Foxglove was awarded the 7th position among the 10 most intriguing speakeasy bars in the world in 2017.
The group benefits from the experience and creativity of the Beverage Manager Gerry Olino, who was awarded #48 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2017.
In the city where F&B concepts pop up every day, there is a need to diversify customer experience and art is a way of doing it.
Retail in Asia has met Jonathan Bui, Co-founder and Managing Director at Ming Fat House, to learn more about the use of art to enhance customer experience and for the occasion we visited Dr. Fern’s art installation by Nefi.
RiA : We have visited Dr. Fern’s installation by Nefi. What type of new experience are you trying to offer to your customers?
Jonathan : The installation makes it lively! There’s a sense of mysteriousness to the space and we hope Dr. Fern’s patients are more curious about the stories of how he came up with the cure for stress related symptoms.
RiA : What’s your customer profile for Dr. Fern’s specifically as it is placed within Landmark, a prestige retail destination?
Jonathan : “Advanced non surgical treatments for Men and Women and everything in between”. We do not have a specific profile as we invite all patients with stressed symptoms.
RiA : How do you think F&B industry is changing in HK as you also manage two more concepts and the three of them are all very different among each other?
Jonathan : Hong Kong customers are traveling more and developing a more discerning taste for not just good food, but innovative dishes, fun atmosphere and beautiful decors.
This change has pushed Hong Kong F&B outlets to really push the envelope on good, inexpensive eats that provide customers with an unforgettable experience.
Retail in Asia has also met Nefianto Setiono. He is a famous events decorator in Indonesia and is acclaimed for his design works using different botanicals and lightings to create a magical atmosphere.
He has created 5 art pieces that reflects the flavour profile of Gins and the life of Dr. Robben Fern- who is is an eccentric physician who has dedicated his life to studying botanicals. Dr. Fern’s love for nature has led him to open a Gin Parlour where he treats his patients’ ailments, and stress related symptoms with his own concoctions of fresh, local herbs and botanicals – paired with gins from around the world.
RiA : You are an artist specializing in art installations for events. We have visited your art installation and Dr. Fern’s in Hong Kong. What’s the reason behind this exhibition?
Nefi : The reason behind the installation thought to engage Art Basel’s visitors into a 24/7 art experience. Dr. Fern’s was transformed into a place to enjoy few drinks while still being immersed into art. We also hope that our initiative would inspire other like-minded artist to share their talent in this way.
RiA : As the art installation is very conceptual, could you take our readers through a virtual journey into the inspiration for the pieces?
Nefi : We wanted to give the customers the experience that we went through in Dr. Fern’s. Dr. Fern’s is there to medicate its patients; therefore we created floral installations while incorporating the feel of a laboratory using scientific utensils because a doctor cannot do his work without them.
RiA : As Dr. Fern’s is part of the HK retail ecosystem, and this industry seems to be shifting towards a more experiential design, what’s your view on this and how to work with art to engage customer?
Nefi : Nowadays, people are attracted to art more than ever because of social media. Most of the time, they engage with art to take pictures and share them on Instagram.
With a place like Doctor Fern’s we tried to create an unforgettable experience with flow through the art, thus being engaging with the customers. They will not only stop in for the drinks, but also to be surrounded by beauty that they will not get anywhere else.
RiA : As Indonesia is a growing market and also an interesting hub for artists, how this is changing Indonesia economy and lifestyle?
Nefi : Indonesia as any other country has been westernized through globalization, which leads to the lifestyle of Indonesians to follow trends in the Western way of life. The best thing about being an artist in Indonesia we have a rich and diverse culture that has many different art forms that could inspire us.
We also have the capability to craft hand-made works due to the lack of technology in the art industry, which to me is a blessing. In conclusion our lifestyles have been upgraded to special and personalized hand-made items that the Western culture dream of having, while being on track to help the craftsman’s make a living.