If you’ve walked through Central recently, you’ve probably spotted Preset. The glaringly modern, two-level space, which boasts a wine bar, coffee shop and downstairs exhibition area, is the newest concept by brothers Caleb and Joshua Ng, aka Twins Kitchen.
The two are Hong Kong’s unrivalled wunderkinds. At only 32 years old, this is their fifth concept – a forward-thinking marriage of retail space and restaurant (you can read more about the trend here). “This is the future of the retail model,” says Caleb, when we sat down last month, “It’s about how you combine retail and an F&B experience.”
Unlike most restauranteurs in the city, Twins Kitchen seems to fly under the radar. Their names aren’t plastered in every magazine, and their concepts are more for the neighborhood than the press. In short, their dedicated to their work, not prestige. And as part restaurant owners, part food-focused branding agents, there is a quite a lot of work for them to focus on. And, they do it to the highest standard. Joshua was recently recognised as the first Food Designer in the city to receive the Young Design Talent Award 2017.
Preset marks a diversion for the pair, who have developed a reputation for soulful, even whimsical, community-focused restaurants like Stack in Sai Ying Pun and Gao Dumpling Bar in Copenhagen. Preset is a far cry from pancakes and Nordic dumplings. It’s undeniably chic, like an Instagrammer’s Pinterest board come to life, and unapologetically consumerist. The pop-up venue has been created to transform every month, as new partners come in and take over the event space.
Divided across two levels, Preset is home to a coffee-shop-cum-natural-wine-bar, Interval, and a customisable event space. The names are both references to the theatre: “‘Preset’ is a theatrical term that describes the process of placing all props, lighting, and set pieces in the right locations before a performance begins,” says Caleb, “we want to be able to set the perfect stage for brands to shine.” Interval, of course, is the much-needed break between acts; a time to refresh and reflect before the next story is told.
During the planning stages, they realised that the concept was sound, but the execution would be difficult. The reality of Preset is a bit of a design conundrum: a space that is warm, welcoming, and social-media friendly, yet also completely neutral and durable, easily able to transform to suit each new brand pop-up.
The solution was an all-white, completely neutral event-space, and a striking, marble and brass dining area. “We have three materials, brass, Japanese paint made from algae, soil and grass, and marble,” explains designer Keith Chan from Hintegro. “Brass changes with time, it will oxidize and grow into an even better colour. The algae paint is a very special material that reminds us of nature, it’s a metaphor for the space and the food coming together.” The marble, used for the countertops, is more than striking, it’s clean, elegant and long-lasting.
Preset, in short, is seeking to re-imagine the retail model, giving consumers a reason to forgo the comforts of online shopping and head to a brick-and-mortar store. It’s a brand’s dream come true, allowing them easy access to their consumers, but also, it’s just a great new spot in central! We can easily see people stopping by mid-afternoon for a coffee, or later at night for a glass or two of wine. The food area will run specials related to the ever-changing residencies, but otherwise will operate as a normal café and wine bar.
Seats are limited, but if you snag one, be sure to take a few pics for the ‘gram. Keep an eye out for future events and pop-ups, the schedule changes monthly.
Preset, UG/F & G/F, 33 Wellington Street, Central 2570 5768