Xuxu bar and eatery

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Muted lighting throws soft shadows across the interior space.

Muted lighting throws soft shadows across the interior space. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Ideas of romance are evoked through heavy drapes and delicate fabrics.

Ideas of romance are evoked through heavy drapes and delicate fabrics. Image: Jeremy Toth

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In every element of the space can be found subtle, considered and crafted details.

In every element of the space can be found subtle, considered and crafted details. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Delicate fabrics accentuate Eastern elegance.

Delicate fabrics accentuate Eastern elegance. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Little round tables seat just a handful of guests.

Little round tables seat just a handful of guests. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Alongside bolder Eastern references can be found tinier motifs.

Alongside bolder Eastern references can be found tinier motifs. Image: Jeremy Toth

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A cosy den at the back of the bar glitters with shards of a hundred shattered blue porcelain plates.

A cosy den at the back of the bar glitters with shards of a hundred shattered blue porcelain plates. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Inspiration drawn from orientalist paintings is outworked within the interior space.

Inspiration drawn from orientalist paintings is outworked within the interior space. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Delicate detailing, dark timbers and moody lighting accentuate Eastern elegance in this new Britomart nightspot, Xuxu, by Cheshire Architects.

A small terrace wrapped with filigree bamboo leaves and creepers keeps a roaring city at bay. Inside, past wicker tables and dappled lantern light, lies a little bar shrouded in soft darkness.

Xuxu (pronounced ‘Su-Su’) is a small, tall room. Its walls are wrapped in delicate fabrics and papers and stained with a pale fog of watercolour. Within this soft vessel float planes of smoky onyx, waxed timber, raw brass, honeyed leather and the glittering shards of a hundred shattered blue porcelain plates. We wanted to assemble here a salon electrified by real intimacy; a grown-up place, full of smoky sensuality and beautiful tragedy. We talked a lot about Vietnam, China, and the covert pornography of orientalist painting.

Nothing here is ‘off the shelf’: every element of this room is crafted or subverted in the pursuit of integrity and a particularly gentle delight. Xuxu is a salon shaped from the care of the artisans who crafted it, energised by the intensity of its occupation, and made gracious by the elegance and efficiency of its staff. It is a tiny room planned down to the teaspoon, where an entire kitchen, bar and washroom fit in the left-over space under a stair.

This is our second project for these young, energetic restaurateurs. The first, Cafe Hanoi, sits across the road, bursting at its carefully frayed seams. Xuxu is Hanoi’s little sister, happiest in its shadow. It seats a handful of people at its little round tables, serves small plates of Banh-mi and pork with lemongrass, and dispenses smoky cocktails spiced with exotic fruit or delicate pickles. A beautiful woman will seat you, and a charming man will pour your drink in a slipper glass. It will feel like dusk.  


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