To many people, Wan Chai is synonymous with Suzie Wong, the fictional bar girl of Richard Mason's bestseller, a zone of anything-goes bars where sylph-like oriental babes are in abundance. But only unwitting tourists and bored, middle-aged men are now lured into the remaining over-priced girlie bars. As Hong Kong has grown, the sleaze and sailors have been replaced by suits and secretaries. With the metamorphosis, a new breed of drinker appeared on the block: the office worker. With that came the need for a new variation, the non-girlie bar. The past 10 years have seen the growth of mainstream bars in the area and one man can lay claim to having shaped the modern face of the Wan Chai watering hole: designer Andrew Scattergood. Thirty years after the publication of The World Of Suzie Wong, Mr Scattergood arrived in Hong Kong from England and within a few years he had his own interior design company, Damask, specialising in restaurant and bar design. The 36-year-old has designed food and beverage outlets throughout the territory, but Wan Chai has become something of a hot spot: he designed eight of the 10 most popular bars in the area, including Joe Bananas, Rick's, Carnegies, The Flying Pig, Ridgways, and Dali's. Joe Bananas broke the ice: 10 years ago it was the first non-girlie bar to open in the area. 'JB's found it difficult for the first year or so, and then slowly it became an oasis within the area,' says Mr Scattergood. 'Everyone wants to be a restaurateur or bar owner: it's a public declaration of success,' he says. It's saying, 'I don't work in the restaurant business but I own one.' 'Virtually every star has a bar: think of Planet Hollywood, Fashion Cafe, it's an ego thing.' Whether Mr Scattergood's client is a newcomer or already in the business, his first step is to help define the type of bar wanted: 'I get a lot of people coming to me who say, 'I have this space but I don't know what to put in it.' Or else they have lots of ideas and I help them adapt them. You have to say, 'Okay, what does the market need in this space?' That's what happened with Wan Chai. 'The bars are all very different. What you try to do is complement instead of compete. There are only so many people who can drink in these places and everyone will have their favourite, so you try to make each place acceptable to everybody but not the same, and create a circuit.' That's what Mr Scattergood did. The first bar after Joe Bananas was Rick's, in 1994. Rick's has been in Tsim Sha Tsui for 14 years but Wan Chai Rick's looked nothing like its 3,500-square-foot counterpart across the harbour. Most theme bars use photographs to create an atmosphere, but Rick's, based on the film Casablanca doesn't have even one. 'We came out with a totally new look for Rick's. The architectural features, shapes, style, lighting and drapery let you know what it is. It's North Africa, World War II, you see the shapes and know what it is. 'We made a conscious decision that it would not be like the one in TST because the clientele in Wan Chai are totally different. The Wan Chai one has more sophistication because it has more Western clientele and they are expecting a bit more from a bar.' Carnegies moved in soon after Rick's. Opened by the same people who manage the Wanch, the owners initially had a Balinese artefacts bar in mind. They initially wanted to create a venue for live folk music but Mr Scattergood talked them out of it. 'The Wanch is successful so if you create another Wanch it's just 150 metres away: all you do is split your customers. What you want to do is have a whole new kind of customer.' Thus, the lively rock' n' roll bar was created. And there's no missing the rock theme: the walls are covered with original artworks, album covers, sheet music and guitars. Even the front of the bar resembles a keyboard. 'Carnegies is all about people coming in and having a good time. People don't come here to stand and pose, they're here to drink and have a good time. And, just to make sure the bar got off to the right start, Mr Scattergood got up on the bar and danced on the opening night, setting off a tradition that is played out religiously every weekend. Next on the scene was The Flying Pig, although the airline theme bar nearly went by the name of Cockpit or Joysticks. Owned by the same people who run Yelts Inn in Lan Kwai Fong, the bar is decked out with old Cathay Pacific airline seats, and even the stainless-steel toilet doors are marked Stewards and Stewardesses. Drawn by its popularity and the attraction of a pool table, a local punter offered to buy the bar: in vain. Instead, he called in Mr Scattergood to design his own bar: Ridgways. Mr Scattergood has built his circuit. It's not unusual to see people hop from The Flying Pig to Carnegies, move across to Rick's and then stagger into Joe Bananas. So what does Wan Chai need next? 'A top-class nightclub where live music can be played. Hong Kong needs a 97 version of Hot Gossip, like the Hacienda in Manchester, that would appeal to both expatriates and locals.'