Building on the arrival experience and new lobby Café, AB Concept has reimagined the Four Seasons Hong Kong’s cocktail bar, Argo.

Set to become a new must-visit destination for spirit aficionados, the cocktail bar represents the completion of the second phase of the hotel’s transformation and joins the Four Season’s strong roster of acclaimed dining destinations.

Argo takes its name from the myth of Jason and the Argonauts and their journey of discovery. Its design is inspired by a traditional conservatory, with sweeping architectural curves playing with the boundaries between interior and exterior.

Supper recently caught up with Ed Ng, co-founder of AB Concept to learn about the inspiration behind the new bar, the design process and the importance of details.

What was the starting point for the design?

Since its opening 15 years ago, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong – the only hotel in the International Financial Centre – has been a hub and is one of the best possible locations in Central Hong Kong. It’s quite an honour to learn that it has been the second-highest revenue generator for the APAC for many years; it’s such an iconic property.

When it first opened, the lobby has a more minimalist approach. Over the last decade, the general functionality of a hotel lobby has been evolved globally. And the importance of integrating the F&B component to boost the lobby space’s vibe has become a norm. The time had come for a total refurbishment.

Argo, formerly known as Blue Bar, has been one of the most challenging design briefs: maximise the efficient use of every inch of space is clearly something typical for Hong Kong. This venue serves breakfast, high tea, happy hour all the way to the nightcap. The vibe must evolve throughout the day and the night without feeling out of place.

When we first designed this bar, we wanted to create a unique escape in the heart of this financial centre of Hong Kong. Inspired by conservatory, a space you can easily associate with from breakfast all the way to lunch and high tea. At the same time, a conservatory can also transform itself into a sexy destination bar in the evening with the right lighting.

On entry, guests are welcomed by a grand central bar, how did you got about designing this aspect of the space?

Our goal for Argo’s design is to offer a place for guests to escape from this concrete jungle in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world. As we designed, we knew the back bar had to become the iconic focal point of the space. In its previous incarnation, the bar was situated at the far end against a wall. But we knew the stunning Victoria Harbour view was the perfect backdrop to truly reflect its unique location.

We’ve made use of the circular structural column in front of the windows and transformed it into the bar’s focus, centring to this panoramic stunning harbour view behind. It is a carefully curated composition blending location and design.

What was thinking behind the FF&E?

At the circular main bar, we created over 180 cylinders, including 72 revolving ones, wrapped with false shagreen around the column that opens and closes gradually in its transition throughout the day. Along with the help of mixologist Lorenzo Antinori, Argo stores rare spirits inside the cylinders revealing this eye candy when the compartments open at night.

All the furniture at Argo is custom-made and designed by AB Concept, where the floral-patterned table surface pays homage to the conservatory concept. In the seating area, we used a custom ceramic/porcelain textured wallpaper with semi-gloss finishes. We created a semi-enclosed design with curved extensive polished nickel silver rods throughout the seating area with hanging terrariums, providing a sense of privacy without compromising the view.

The VIP room features earthy creatures such as butterflies and beetles inspired artworks, handcrafted by Raku Inoue through paper and leaves, paired with floral decorations suspended from the ceiling at four corners, serving as the finishing touch to bring the conservatory concept to life.

What would you say is the overall aim of the bar from a design perspective?

We go beyond providing solutions to design emotional journeys within our projects, ensuring that rational responses are always combined with attention to the feeling, alongside function and form. We describe our mission as translating intangible emotions into tangible realities. We design for experience and memory together. In every project, we ask ourselves two questions: How do we want people to feel? What will be remembered from this experience an hour, a day, a week and a year later?

One of the prime objectives was to design Argo as a new destination and addition it to the already vibrant scene in Hong Kong and the go-to place for both local and international guests, where it offers a stunning Victoria harbour view from the bar. Apart from being a bar with such intensity, the fundamental criteria are about striking a balance between function and aesthetic. An establishment within the hotel that can serve breakfast, high tea, cocktails, and go all the way from the light-hearted to an intimate vibe in the late evening, meant that we had to create an evolution from day to night.

Words: Jenna Campbell
Photography: © Chester Ong