The Moody Textures — and Glass Blocks — of This California Restaurant Set the Vibe

Los Angeles-based designer and 2023 American Design Hot List-er Jialun Xiong has a strong background in interiors, architecture, and furniture design, all of which is on full display at her latest project, the new City of Industry restaurant 19 Town. Xiong went for “lavish restraint” in this 4,200-square-foot space, divided into dining and lounge areas that are each subtly well-defined yet work together as a whole. (The name – according to the restaurant, which serves Chinese-inspired cuisine – is a play on words: 19 Town phonetically sounds like the Chinese word for an establishment with food and wine.) The shapes and forms Xiong has relied on here are simple and elegant while the materials are rich and evocative. Case in point: a silver-powdercoated bench, in the entry area, with three off-white circular leather seats that remind us of macarons delectably placed in a patisserie vitrine. The bench is part of Xiong’s Building Blocks furniture collection and other sofas, tables, and benches that Xiong also designed set the mood in the lounge areas. A custom reception desk makes a good argument for Formica, backed by a wall of Venetian plaster and plywood casework, while circular pendant lights by Vibia balance out the geometry.

As minimal as it may be in style, Xiong has managed to maximize functionality, keeping the cohesion while setting the stage for different dining experiences. The meticulous, soothing spareness of the private dining rooms are meant to encourage a slow, more ceremonial meal, while a convivial atmosphere emerges in the open, airy main dining area. Its color palette of neutrals and hints of green, sometimes deep and dark, sometimes more pale, and walls of strategically placed glass blocks contribute to an effect that’s both retro and futuristic. But in addition to the pared back, monochrome furnishings and accents, it’s Xiong’s holistic use of negative space that completes the overall vibe.