The stories, contributions, and influences of the AAPI community are all around us, nestled in little pockets of American culture and society. This month, we take a moment to recognize the journey and efforts of a group often overlooked. Only in recent years do we see the AAPI representation leaving its footprint in pop culture, particularly Hollywood’s cinema culture. This came to mind when Bobby Green of the 1933 Group decided to reinvent the landmark restaurant, the Formosa Cafe.
Once a rundown smoking patio, Green’s thoughtful restoration of this space transformed it into a lively back bar that pays homage to Asian history in the industry, explaining he “decided to really tell a story about the influence of Chinese Americans in early Hollywood" after noticing the establishment previously did not pay tribute to any region or time period. Astek’s custom red and gold flocked wallpaper designed by Tina Charad stands out and sets the tone in this room and douses it in a deep crimson shade that means propensity, luck, and happiness in Chinese culture. It also serves as the perfect backdrop for sepia-toned celebrity headshots of Asian actors and films curated by filmmaker Arthur Dong. A black chinoiserie also designed by Charad and printed by us, appears in the restroom and on the restaurant’s back patio, continuing to play into the theme. This illustrative design features detailed iconography depicting elements commonly found in Chinese culture, such as temples and dragons.
We were pleased to participate in such a thoughtful recreation of an iconic Hollywood space. Astek’s printed wares helped bring new life and new meaning to this iconic space after a two-year renovation period. AAPI voices, stories, and experiences, old and new, come together in a unique intersection at the Formosa Cafe and tell the story of a rich history.