Bringing Stories to Life Through Design


Multi-concept powerhouse, AvroKO summons their celebrated creative talents to design Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok’s F&B collection.


Multi-concept powerhouse, AvroKO has built a global reputation for unprecedented concept-driven spaces. The firm’s young, eclectic and visionary design and architectural team has been the driving force behind some of the worlds’ most celebrated F&B and hospitality collections.

The secret to their success story stems from creating spaces that resonate with guests and connecting every element to a central narrative. Phillip Pond, Chief Creative Officer at AvroKO, believes the success of his firm’s award-winning international projects lies in the layered narratives that he and his team infuse into each design - a story constructed from several ideas. The firm’s critically hailed portfolio includes restaurants, bars, hotels, retail, and residential projects from New York to Hong Kong, all characterised by a unique convergence between the ideals of the past and an off-beat, forward-looking sensibility.

“The interplay between those different elements is an intuitive process, but we do go as far as to have a framework in words and images to explain how the overlapping influences work together. That’s our concept statement, the DNA of the design, informing decisions of every aspect of the project. As for the origins of the concept, these narrative components can come from anywhere, but we always think about context. That could mean taking influences from physical surroundings, like the landscape or the local design vernacular. We might look into the social context - what people and traditions make up a place. Of course, hospitality projects have a lot to do with traditions - how, for example, in a particular community or era, people socialise, share food and drinks, and celebrate. These rich details of context we can apply to the physical design or to aspects of how a project is operated, which becomes the arc of the guest journey, and the design of the whole experience.

When it came to finding inspiration for projects at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, the hotel’s riverside location and the rich heritage of the destination played a significant role in the creative process. “The essence of Chao Phraya Estate lifestyle is derived from the beauty of the water and its surroundings; there is a very rich context of the site within this property, which made it one of the most intriguing projects we have worked on to date. Our aim was to craft individual experiences aligning the architecture with the natural landscape. In the luxury market, these elements remain a priority for discerning buyers who value creative vision and thoughtful design as a way of enhancing their lifestyle.”

“The first time we were introduced to the F&B program at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, we were very excited. Out of the various outlets, we were fortunate enough to be invited to work on three separate F&B identities. The projects are untitled to date, but we refer to them as the Riverside Italian, The Brassiere and The Social Club. The venues work together as the anchors of Four Seasons Hotel, public amenities, and riverfront. As a whole, this collection of venues and landscapes will be the renaissance of a district within one of the oldest areas of Bangkok. For all the projects that was the starting point: the importance of this context to Bangkok. We interpreted that context differently for each of the venues - after all, we’re encouraging a varied and complementary gathering of distinct places.”

For the Riverside Italian venue - we focus on locally and seasonally-inspired dining. The AvroKO team took context to mean the natural surroundings, the view of the Chao Phraya River and the landscape of big trees. Colours here are a bit more subdued than in the other venues, and textures and materials celebrate the natural light and openness.”

At The Brasserie, the context was based on social interaction, how each archetype of the restaurant has its own essential vibe, and that the brasserie is a timeless format where fine dining and drinking are at their most sociable. The art programme for this space aims to get in on the action as well, bringing in work from the local and regional community as a means for visitors and artists from Thailand to interact.”

Over at the third venue, we looked to context of space, which took a more historical approach to service, drinks, and food which will call to mind aspects of a grand urban residence from colonial times. We wanted to relate this to the context of Bangkok’s 19th century commercial district along the river, the cosmopolitan hub of the city. This space will feel like its own world, born from the context but existing sort of in a parallel universe, appropriate for a venue that will really be most switched on at night.”

Of course, practical concerns inevitably play a key role in every successful design concept and they are central to determining several key aspects of the project. Close collaboration with every other consultant on each of the projects is an absolute must for AvroKO. Phillip believes in working with every co-consultant to ensure a space will look and function as it should.

“The first challenge is finding a way to look beyond the confines of each restaurant and ask how every design decision will influence the site as a whole. We want this property to be one big vibrant organism, that means our food, the types of space, lighting, colour, even hours of operation, they must be fine-tuned to offer a great overall variety of experience. This global awareness ties into the second point, which we could say is learning to design for great flow. A busy restaurant has to work like a well-planned transportation hub, with all whizzing parts - guests, staff, food service - flowing freely around each other. This frenetic energy can be beautiful and really the inspiration for dining together in a public place.”

“Although each individual venue has their own identity, together they make up one expression; an expression that will exhibit the forefront of lifestyle and gastronomic arts and act as a magnet for discerning travellers. We are ecstatic to help craft this piece of theatre that will soon be the culinary masterpiece of Asia and the world.”

A V R O| K O

AvroKO is currently working in 14 countries and 25 cities worldwide. The James Beard Awards, Hospitality Design Awards, and HA &D Award are among those that have recognised the firm’s outstanding contributions to architecture and interior design. Phillip Pond offers an inside peek into some of the team’s signature concepts.

Charles H

Charles H is a sultry and mysterious subterranean bar and lounge which recently opened in the Four Seasons Seoul. The space is inspired both by the excavated ancient village ruins on which the property is built, as well as the history of Korea’s immaculate sense of craftsmanship and pattern. Layers of intricate brass screens create intrigue and can be shuttered to further partially or fully enclose spaces for maximum flexibility. A massive 7-metre long art feature inspired by traditional Korean hair plaiting is comprised of twisted ropes, hand-knotted silks and beaded metal strands. The piece is punctuated by dozens of bejewelled, authentic Korean hair pins which twinkle in the dim light.

Arlo Hotels

We are most celebrated for our restaurants but we have been developing great global hotel and resort work over the last several years as well. 1 Hotel Central Park just below Central Park in New York was our first project to open, and was an exploration of luxury and environmental consciousness as guiding principles. Our latest hotel, also in New York, is Arlo, especially designed to enrich the global community of creative "nomads" who live in a fluid world of work and travel. This is a growing population that relish fine design, creative cuisine, and who rely on great hotels to complement their lifestyles. We created the flagship NYC property, including the complete brand and identity, to support this mission perfectly. It was a wonderful opportunity to realise a holistic vision for design and experience.


Working with the Boka Group in Chicago, we developed this fine dining restaurant and bar to offer authentic Japanese food and drink offerings that are rarely found outside of Japan. We were able to go deep into concept story within this space, and we brought together a hearty set of custom furniture and lighting for the build out. We also had wonderful collaborations with local and international artisans across this venue. Despite all the details, the design expression was careful, and never gets in the way, so the food and drinks still command the foreground of the experience.

Saxon + Parole

In downtown Manhattan, this is truly our original F&B laboratory. The bar and the restaurant spaces work together to build a vibrant and varied set of experiences within a modestly-sized space. This is where we continue to explore how a central concept story is brought to life and then evolves with design, food, drinks and events. We own and operate this space as well, and so we can affect all aspects of the venue to ensure the symphony of elements is in tune.

Swift & Sons

The epic-scale Swift & Sons is a reinvention of the grand Chicago steakhouse tradition. It was a great challenge to put forward an original steak concept in a town that is basically the capital of America’s beef industry, not to mention a serious foodie town. We found ourselves designing within an incredible context, a historic cold storage facility where up until the eighties the entire building had been literally a giant refrigerated way station for vast quantities of meat and dairy products. We had to address this American industrial story, but knew we needed to find new aesthetic territory beyond the sort of gaslight-era style that had become overused in restaurant design. We landed at a kind of retro futurist concept, and it came directly from studying Chicago design of the era, which gave us the monumentality of Louis Sullivan, the warmth and polychromy of early prairie-style civic interiors and the modern visual elegance of Nikolai Tesla machines. Onto this original vocabulary we layered more spontaneous and personal accents throughout. For instance, in the events space, which has a sort of executive war room style, we collected aerial photos of ranch lands that, taken together, put the guest in the mindset of a some great captain of the cattle industry, looking across the big American landscape with titanic business vision. I recently received an Instagram posting of President Obama standing at the bar in the club room, which was the ultimate compliment for a project with such bold ambitions—being able to host the big boss on his home turf.