In the redesign of Wynn Macau’s Wing Lei restaurant, a world of influences is transformed into one light-filled homage to China.
The redesign includes a reflective gold surface on the 27-foot crystal dragon and new shaded light fixtures with tassels.
When Steve Wynn asked Roger Thomas, Executive Vice President of Design for Wynn Design and Development, to redesign the interior of Wing Lei, the signature Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant in Wynn Macau, his request fell in line with the goal for Wynn Palace, being built simultaneously on the Cotai Strip. Simply put, the design should honor China.
The remodeling of the five-year-old restaurant certainly accomplishes that, from the hand-woven carpet, its design based on the fretwork of Ming dynasty screens, to the Ming-influenced bespoke chairs. As with most Wynn interiors, though, the range of inspirations is spread far and wide. Rather than adhere strictly to local tradition, the design also meanders through Europe’s 17th-century fascination with chinoiserie. Thomas points out that France was where chinoiserie reached its greatest florescence, in the court of Louis XIV, so meaningful details at Wing Lei include the wall coverings, woven on small looms in Beverly Hills using the same technique and yarns as in a classic Coco Chanel suit.
Wynn’s love of art often impacts a room in unexpected ways. Thomas had the colorful bouquets in Vincent van Gogh’s light-filled sunflower paintings and the palette of Henri Matisse’s Pineapple and Anemones in mind when he reconsidered the colors at the front of the room. “It was bright before, but it had more light-and-dark contrast,” he says. “This time it’s really about celebrating the reflectance and infusion of light.” The colors are not literally those in the paintings, Thomas adds, but shades of yellow and red coral that summon the feeling of those works.
If that color selection process sounds a bit cerebral, consider one other simple but important edict guiding the palette in Wynn restaurants: The colors must be “delicious,” says Thomas, who always designs in collaboration with Steve Wynn. “I tend to use colors that we would like to see on a plate, like lemon yellow and lobster red.”
The revamped Wing Lei marries an aura of sophistication to a sense of whimsy, which extends from its iconic 27-foot “dragon of light,” composed of 90,000 Swarovski crystals and blown-glass elements, to much smaller details, like the red tassels that hang from ceiling light fixtures created from 1930s floor lamps turned upside down. Even the tiny fretwork on the bottom and the embroidery on the backs of the chairs are, according to Thomas, a kind of lighthearted echo of classic Chinese architecture.
Although most of the room’s elements, from the custom napkins to the polished chrome wall sconces featuring Swarovski crystals, were newly designed, the dragon and a heroic-scale cloisonné horse in the lounge bar return from the previous design, but with new settings.
Redesigning a restaurant after only five years may seem rather soon, but at Wynn’s hotels, where the goal is always to surprise and delight, frequent refreshes are standard. “A lot of families come back to our hotel time after time to dine,” Thomas explains. “They often know the waitstaff because they’re such frequent guests. Having a new, delightful, sun-filled environment in which to celebrate their special occasions is a nice surprise. We want it to be a room of possibilities—romantic and dramatic, you want to find a sense of humor, you want it to have surprises, and you want it to be very comfortable.”