Duck Duck Goose
- The Gourmand meets brothers Oliver and Jamie of brilliant new Brixton restaurant Duck Duck Goose.
Jamie Julien Brown: When my brother asked me to handle the design and install of his first restaurant, a modern Cantonese canteen, I was honoured and excited. Inspired by the cha chaan teng cafes of post war Hong Kong, we wanted something utilitarian but playful. We had several limitations from the get go - money was tight, so we decided to embrace everyday composite materials – vinyl terrazzo floor, Formica surfaces and pegboard walls. Being in a converted shipping container, maximising space was essential; this called for 4 types of seating arrangement. And time was limited; I had an existing trip to Asia in 7 weeks. We got it all done, and I used the trip as a chance to pick up some last minute adornments for the space...
Imitation Asian Fruit (White peach, Rambutan, Jackfruit, Mango, Dragonfruit, Soursop)
-Cholon District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
JJB: We took a day trip from Ho Chi Min City to Cholon, the Ancient Chinese quarter that was once an independent city before eventually merging with Saigon. Hot, hectic and humming with market trucks and motorbikes - it was pretty full on. We sought refuge in one of the indoor markets and came across an amazingly tall Chinese guy with boxes of imitation fruit and veg as far as the eye could see - proper knobbly cucumbers, warts and all, perfectly wrinkled honeydew melons & daikons as big as a baby's head.
Zero poker face, I gave the game away immediately, in a split second I showed all of my enthusiasm for his wares and he was no longer up for any bargaining. But to be fair, they were amazingly inexpensive considering how on point they looked. Sold. Perfect soft freckling on the white peach, impeccable spray fades on the dragonfruit and the expert glue gun drips of the soursop truly brought them to life.
Vintage Red Envelopes & Printed Mirrors
-Cho Mui Ne, Vietnam
JJB: We hopped on our moped to visit the local Red Sand Dunes. We got peckish en route and stopped at the local Cho (market). The usual fare was on offer: herbs, luggage, fresh cow’s head, and a great religious store that specialised in shrine offerings. The cheerful, energetic lady thought I was bonkers as I did not look Buddhist but when it came to Confusicous, I explained his beliefs did resonate with me. Anyway, she liked the colour of my money and I bought a pineapple shaped incense holder and a couple of printed mirrors including a growling tiger one. Originally I thought this would look great inside the restaurant but after research I realised that it would actually bring bad luck. A mirror tiger is a feng shui symbol to ward off evil spirits and must be displayed at the exterior threshold of the property, where it hangs today. Next to her there was an old gent, literally selling granny pants and kids socks off a cardboard box. He happened to also have a load of vintage envelopes traditionally used for offerings of money at special occasions. New garish versions are ten-a-penny in Asia, but it is unusual to find such beautiful litho printed versions that are clearly from another era.
-Chinese Community Centre, Chinatown, London
JJB: When I was in Hanoi, close to the Chinese border, I was constantly on the look out for Cantonese calligraphy artists to get some bespoke artwork done for the restaurant. I found one guy at the Temple of Literature but it was a bit of a tourist trap. He dutifully daubed the message “success” onto a questionable, fake gilded scroll with plastic handles, and unfortunately it did not make the cut. Back in London I decided to rock up at the London Chinese Community Centre in Leicester Square, as I saw they had a calligraphy workshop one evening. There I met Liang-Gong Zhu, the Vice Chairman of the Chinese Calligraphers Association, and through a student interpreter, explained that my brother was opening a small Cantonese restaurant. What would he recommend? He chuckled and suggested the phrase “customers come from far and wide”. I smiled, nodded and crossed his palm with silver. He grabbed a sheet of traditional rice paper and knocked it up on the spot.
Lamp shades & Mah Jong tiles
-Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Oli Brown: Jamie thought about every design element at DDG with meticulous dedication. I can only take credit for a couple of interior elements and even then, it wasn’t really my doing. The red butcher lights that adorn the restaurant were shipped from Hong Kong along with the mahjong tiles. These were sourced by my dear friend Edith, an HK local who - showing her usual benevolence - agreed to be my HK contact. She spent hours scouring the Aladdin's cave that is Yau Ma Tei's Shanghai Street: the cheap source for restaurant equipment you never knew you needed. These lights hang all over the city and instantly remind me of the humidity, food and din. The mahjong tiles (not really tiles at all) are beautiful and tactile and provided a cheap but effective way of giving the dining room provenance.
- Designer - Jamie Julien Brown
- Chef and Founder - Oli Brown
- Duck Duck Goose, POP Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, London SW9 8PQ