Sarah Ward references 1920s Shanghai at Two Penny Chinese

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Canadian studio Sarah Ward Interiors looked to China’s art-deco era for your colours and motifs at this dim sum cafe and basement cocktail bar in Calgary.

The nearby firm was asked to imagine the decor for 2 Penny Chinese, located in the city’s Victoria Park neighbourhood – just south of the Downtown organization district.

The team settled on a scheme based on Shanghai in the 1920s, where the art-deco movement merged with traditional Chinese motifs to create a hybrid style.

“The Chinese Deco interval furnished for such prosperous style and design inspiration for this historic Area, and we loved developing every one of the specialty specifics that tell the story of the Room,” mentioned studio founder Sarah Ward.

Shades of teal and dusty pink are found throughout the restaurant as a nod to this era, on the leather-upholstered banquettes, wall panels and metal mirrors. Terracotta accents in the form of cushions and napkins complement the base colour scheme.


Company enter the cafe via a moon gate – a circular opening common in traditional Chinese architecture – produced from blackened oak.

“While modern in design, the gate was executed using traditional dowel joinery and was built entirely by hand,” said a project description.


Tables of various measurements are scattered across the main restaurant Area, paired with curve-backed picket chairs and benches.

The front server station was turned into a feature, with wicker caning and hand-glazed green tiles formed into typically deco shapes.


Related story New York restaurant Junzi Kitchen is coloured to evoke “early spring in Northern China”


Plaster-included portions of walls are decorated with scrolls, painted with visuals of Chinese masks enlarged from your backs of cigarette playing cards.

Towards the back of the space, a bar is wrapped in bespoke scalloped concrete tiles, which are shaped to evoke armour and dragon scales. Globe lamps surround this area, above the teal-toned bar stools.


Fringed pendant lampshades are patterned with leaf motifs, matching Are living plantings also suspended through the ceiling.

A different atmosphere, “reminiscent of dark alleys”, meets guests who descend to the Tea House cocktail bar in the basement. Past the neon-lit stairwell, the dark space is illuminated by traditional red lanterns above the counter.


Dim wood, concrete, in addition to a wall included in vintage posters and adverts make the feel of the underground speakeasy.

Two Penny was opened in October 2017 by Thank You Hospitality, which also operates Calgary’s Mexican restaurant Native Tongues and Indian eatery Calcutta Cricket Club.


“When Cody Willis, the proprietor of Two Penny, 1st arrived to us with the principle we ended up Totally thrilled,” said Ward. “Such a venture won’t arrive all-around fairly often and features us as designers a chance to discover a thing genuinely one of a kind.”

Chinese is one of the most popular cuisines worldwide, and restaurants serving the food feature wildly different interiors that range from traditional to contemporary.


For the small stop of the scale, New York’s Junzi Kitchen has a colour palette dependant on early spring, when The Noodle Rack in Changsha includes hanging wires created to appear like the savoury staple when drying.


Photography is by Phil Crozier.


Venture credits:


Designers: Sarah Ward, Suzanne Tetrault

Consumer: Cody Willis, Thank You Hospitality

Contractor: Develop Tasks

Engineers: EMBE Consulting

Millwork: Tamarack Wonderful Woodwork

Scalloped plaster wall: Interiors to Encourage

Home furniture: CFS Home furnishings, Martin’s Chairs

Upholstery: Calgary Contract Upholstery

Tile at server station: Fireclay Tile

Customized tile on bar: 2Stone

Countertops: Alberta Marble

Customized lights: DainoLite

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