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Cubes Magazine
Cubes Magazine

Steve Leung Design and McDonald’s unlikely partnership

The fast-food chain’s CUBE stores by Steve Leung Design in China kick off a refresh of its outlets.



BY Rachel Lee-Leong

25 March, 2021


Globally, there is arguably no other brand more familiar than McDonald’s. When it was announced that Steve Leung Design (SLD), usually known for its design of high-end residential properties, had designed the fast-food juggernaut’s latest flagship restaurants in China, the news came as a surprise to say the least. Nonetheless, its contemporary proposal for how McDonald’s restaurants in China can be reimagined is unwaveringly true to the brand’s DNA.

McDonald’s Chengdu restaurant features a striking, geometric staircase

SLD had taken on the ambitious task of reimagining how McDonald’s restaurants in China could look like, beginning first with its Chengdu and Shenzhen outlets. The design team’s CUBE design scheme aptly started with the Happy MealTM. Wrapped up in that simple cardboard box are fond childhood memories of eager anticipation, yummy treats and fun surprises. It followed that both restaurants integrate the cubic proportions of the box with fresh but familiar references to childhood memories of McDonald’s.

A warm colour palette are abstracted from key ingredients

Modular square elements make up the formal and graphical foundation of the restaurants and are designed to be adaptable to different settings. “Whilst having to carefully consider the restaurant’s daily operations, we also had to make sure our design scheme could be highly versatile and flexible in different settings. We had to carve a design that could be easily adopted and executed by any contractor in different locations with diverse floor plans and spatial constraints, and targeting a clientele with heterogeneous social and cultural backgrounds,” says the firm’s founder, Steve Leung.

Elements were designed to be modular and easily adapted for different locations.

The design finesse that Steve Leung Design is associated with is appropriated in the flagship restaurants.

Projecting an easy familiarity that most associate with McDonald’s, a warm palette of colours was chosen and applied consistently throughout both restaurants. Iconic ingredients such as the meat patty, lettuce and mayonnaise are represented as brownish-red, lime green and warm grey respectively. These colours are fleshed out not just in the interior and furniture, but in graphic representations of the menu. The mood is distinctly McDonald’s—happy.

Fun graphics that play off the McDonald’s menu further the cheerful ambience.

And if one is attentive, you’ll find the restaurant actually smiling. The signature smile on the Happy MealTM box is subtly incorporated throughout the design as a “Hidden Smile”. The gentle curve of a lamp or the rounded profile of furniture and decorations are examples.

Rounded elements are incorporated as “Hidden Smiles”.

“The collaboration was truly one of a kind, compared to any other SLD projects in the past,” says Leung. “I hope our CUBE design will inspire unforgettable dining experiences by creating cheerful spaces for people of all ages to connect with moments of carefree happiness, spreading my design philosophy of “Enjoy Life, Enjoy Design.”

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