John Anthony is a contemporary dim sum restaurant with a story conceptualised by Hong Kong restaurant group Maximal Concepts. The concept draws inspiration from historical figure John Anthony – the first Chinese man to be naturalised as a British citizen in 1805. Anthony, an employee of the East India Company, embarked on a voyage from the East to West arriving at the east-end docklands of London, where his job was ensure lodgings and food for arriving Chinese sailors.
The design of the John Anthony restaurant drew on Anthony’s journey, exploring the fusion of architectural styles and materiality between East and West, and colonial architecture blurred with Eastern detailing, to create a British tea hall turned Chinese canteen. Maximal Concepts and Linehouse explored the materials Anthony would have encountered on his journey: hand glazed tiles, natural and racked renders, terracotta, hand-dyed fabrics and hand-woven wickers.
The main dining hall in the restaurant is an interpretation of the storehouses in the docklands. The modern vaulted space plays on verticality and lightness, and has a sense of whimsy. The retro nostalgia of the Chinese canteen is fused with colonial detailing. Beyond the dining hall, a series of arched spaces allow for more intimate dining. Private dining rooms are lined in hand-painted tiles featuring large-scale illustrations of commodities traded between the British and Chinese in the eighteenth century. The bathrooms reference the spice trade.
At the heart of the venue is Maximal Concepts’ sustainable message, woven into every aspect of the interior, as well as operations. Materials were sourced from companies supporting sustainability and were all local, handmade or reclaimed.
Photography: Johnathan Leijonhufvud.