Great Spa­ces

A new Cal­gary space feels like a world away.

Western Living - - CONTENT - — Gabrielle Lakusta

Aly Velji de­signed res­tau­rant For­eign Con­cept with a nod to the past.

For­eign Con­cept may have just opened this past De­cem­ber, but the res­tau­rant feels steeped in his­tory. Fit­ting, given that the menu by chef and owner Dun­can Ly takes its cues from a spe­cific time and place: colo­nial Viet­nam.

Ly had tasked de­signer Alykhan Velji with cre­at­ing a space that re­flected the food—“a nod to the Asian, but not over the top,” said Velji—and also con­verted a 3,500-square-foot L-shaped space into an in­ti­mate din­ing area. The de­signer’s first step was to break up the lay­out with cus­tom logo screens (a colo­nial stan­dard made mod­ern): the din­ing room is now split in two, with an open kitchen on one side and a char­cu­terie bar on the other, with a smaller lounge also sep­a­rated via a screen. Though the menu is heav­ily in­flu­enced by Viet­nam, Ly brings in flavours from across Asia, and Velji did the same with the de­sign. An­tique moon-cake moulds from China were framed and hung, and chi­nois­erie-in­spired mu­rals were com­mis­sioned for the walls; un­der­foot, Per­sian rugs top a dark hard­wood floor, and rat­tan-backed chairs line cus­tom ta­bles made in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Room B. It’s a mash-up of his­tor­i­cally in­spired ar­ti­facts that to­gether make some­thing beau­ti­fully new.

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