SPACE SMARTS: BMD maximizes opportunity in a Hong Kong wine bar
By Molly Heintz
February 20, 2012 - Some New Yorkers take perverse pride in the diminutive size of their apartments, having puzzled out a modus vivendi for space-challenged studios and efficiency kitchens. But they haven’t been to Hong Kong. In the most densely populated city in the world, every square inch is stretched to unimaginable lengths through logic games of stacking, packing, and wedging. Such is the case for Amo Eno, a wine bar and shop that opened in December in the retail podium of Hong Kong’s International Financial Centre (IFC).
The American proprietors, Andrew and Brook Bradbury, have just increased Hong Kong’s headcount by two. With their business partner, Charles Banks, the entrepreneurial team collaborated with Toronto-based Bruce Mau Design (BMD) to develop the concept for Amo Eno, whose name derives from ancient lingo for ”love” and “wine.” Andrew Bradbury, a master sommelier, was also behind the wine bars 55 Degrees in Vegas and Clo in the Time Warner Center in New York. After the short-lived Clo faltered—something Bradbury attributes in part to New York City’s complex and slow-going permitting process—the couple began to look beyond the U.S. to China, where over the last few years a new wine market has blossomed. “There’s no tariff on wine coming in, getting a liquor license isn’t difficult, and the cost of doing business in Hong Kong is less—I can negotiate anything,” said Bradbury.
Wine connoisseurship is a status symbol in the booming Chinese economy, much like art collecting; and it’s common for collectors to display wine bottles in their homes like trophies rather than decanting and enjoying a prized vintage. Bradbury wanted to help change this by creating a casual environment where customers are encouraged to sample wine while also learning more about the product. Enter BMD, who worked with Amo Eno’s owners on establishing a brand identity that then became the driving force for the design of the 1,200-square-foot space. “We did the initial branding using a motion software program called Cinema 4D, so it was always about motion and light,” said BMD chief executive Hunter Tura of the evolution of the logo—two crossed wine bottles that form the shape of a heart—into what Tura calls a “logos cape.”