restaurant, bar, club | 2003 - 2005 | Vienna
ra’an: Allan Yang, Jun Yang, Dong Ngo
Architecture: Jun Yang, Sophie Thalbauer, Dong Ngo
After I left ra’mien, my oldest brother Allan Yang approached me to create another restaurant—not as a branch of the one I had just worked on (ra’mien), but with the freedom to conceive a new project. At the very beginning, I was reluctant to join because I had just stepped out of ra’mien and I was about to start the international artist in residency programme at the MoMA PS1 in New York City. Without going too far into the details, I agreed to work on this new project because I wanted to give the whole venture another try. I worked with Allan, and again with Dong Ngo and Sophie Thalbauer on the restaurant ra’an. As the name suggested, there were considerations similar to the ra’mien restaurant, but it went in another cultural direction: the look of ra’an was much more inspired by traditional Japanese patterns, and in connection with that we served sushi as a basic (instead of the noodle soups at ra’mien).
ra’an opened in late 2003.
In terms of scale, it was bigger with an even bigger venue of a bar/club in the basement—the ra’an bar. Generally speaking, the ra’an project was more ambitious. We were interested in creating a space that would be accessible for twenty-four hours, by trying to connect and incorporate various functions of day and nightlife into one space: a café, a take-away, a restaurant, a bar, a club. Even though the restaurant was successful with customers and highly praised within the media—it was the first Asian restaurant to win the Austrian Tafelspitz Award—I found out that ra’an stood on very shaky ground financially. ra’an closed in 2005.
ra’an put another focus on lunches and take-aways. For this purpose, we wanted to introduce the take-away box that we had grown accustomed to through watching US TV series and films (whenever there is somebody at home at night—he or she opens the fridge and grabs one of these Chinese restaurant take-away boxes with something like fried noodles in it). Until then, these take-away boxes were only available on the US market—and importing them was not possible at that time—therefore we decided to design and produce them ourselves in Vienna. The box itself was rather simple, in order to produce them easily. We wanted the significant wire handle on top, however that proved to be difficult in production. In the end, we came up with a tool (produced in Vietnam), which finally made it possible to shape metal wire according to our expectations; ultimately, box and metal handle were manually assembled. The lunch boxes became an instant success. One year after ra’an opened, the US producer entered the Austrian market. Today, one can find these slightly modified “Chinese food” take-away boxes almost everywhere; even Turkish Döner Kebap is served in these boxes. (images #07, #08, #09)
ra’an restaurant: #01: space 1 (japanese pattern), #02: space 2 (tiles room)
ra’an bar: #03, #04: space 3 (neon lights), #05: space 4 (the den)