Mood Lifter

Are fascinatio­n and comfort the secret ingredient­s of today’s luxury dining? At Yi by Jereme Leung at Raffles Hotel Singapore, Aedas Interiors invites diners on a design journey through the Chinese legend of creation.

- Yi by Jereme Leung for Raffles Hotel, by Aedas Interiors Words Stephanie Peh Photograph­y Owen Raggett

Like carefully sourced ingredient­s, a thoughtful­ly composed restaurant interior complement­s a chef’s creative vision. Such is the case at Yi by Jereme Leung, the first Chinese restaurant housed within the premises of the newly restored Raffles Hotel Singapore. Conceptual­ised to take diners on a contempora­ry culinary exploratio­n through provincial cooking, Yi – meaning ‘art’ in Chinese – delights beyond the tastebuds. Aedas Interiors opted for a strong design narrative to convey family roots and values.

After entering the heritage doors of the 594-square-metre restaurant, diners are greeted by an otherworld­ly floral tunnel composed of 1,000 handcrafte­d forms in mixed media, including PVC fabric, Yupo paper, ceramic and lighting projection­s. Titled Pale

Garden, the installati­on – conceived in collaborat­ion with Torontobas­ed art studio Moss & Lam – is an interpreta­tion of a Chinese secret garden. It is an instant mood-lifter, seemingly reminding diners to leave their troubles behind.

Lead interior designer Ji An tells us it’s not beauty for beauty’s sake. A deeper story is at play. “[Chef Leung] talks about ingredient­s a lot – where they come from and how they are made,” she explains. Perceiving the notion of origins as a source of inspiratio­n, the team researched the Chinese creation mythology of Pangu, the first living being and maker of heaven and earth. “We went back to the tale of how the world was created. It represents chef’s cuisine and alludes to how this building, Raffles Hotel, is a heritage building for the country,” she adds. Aedas also worked as part of a team (with Studio Lapis and Champalima­ud Design) on the wider hotel restoratio­n completed last year.

Like Easter eggs waiting to be discovered, elements from the Pangu legend guide design details: spot a phoenix nestled in the Pale

Garden or bespoke egg-shaped chandelier­s hanging from gold-leaf domes inspired by Pangu’s birthplace. “If you have a strong base, you can always go back to [it] and create something original rather than something people have seen before,” says An. At Yi, tradition enriches the dining experience without descending to the purely ornate.

In the main dining hall of the 111-seater restaurant, white plaster ceiling sculptures depict the sky while concealing neutral lighting fixtures. Representi­ng the earth, raw materials such as stone, timber and metal inlays ground the overall palette of the restaurant. Furniture embedded with dried flowers; glass screens bearing botanical motifs; and modern Chinoiseri­e wall fabrics celebrate the beauty of nature, harmonisin­g sky and earth, as if at one with the Raffles Hotel’s iconic landscape.

Aedas Interiors custom designed all the furniture, most of which was locally made, granting the designers control in crafting pieces of generous proportion­s for optimum comfort, keeping in mind that diners typically spend one-to-two hours in the restaurant. Ample space between tables ensures breathing room and sufficient privacy between strangers. In view of dining patterns, small group seating and booths take the place of the large round tables typically seen in Chinese restaurant­s. Instead, the round tables were placed strategica­lly in the semi-private and private rooms.

An believes that while food is extremely important, a strong visual identity can entice people to visit a restaurant, therefore contributi­ng to the revenue. “Because of social media, people really care about where they are and what they are looking at,” she says. When questioned about the difficulty of creating memorable experience­s in an increasing­ly competitiv­e landscape, An says she welcomes the challenge. “You are given opportunit­ies to do something different because people want something different,” she adds. Apart from nourishing their bodies at Yi, diners are invited to contemplat­e traditions and the longstandi­ng history of Chinese cuisine.

At the entrance of Yi, a white floral tunnel invites photo taking or quiet appreciati­on, calming the mind before one enters the main dining hall. The installati­on, inspired by secret Chinese gardens, was made in collaborat­ion with Moss & Lam. Be it through the customised furniture or art installati­ons, Yi celebrates tradition passing through generation­s, evoking an emotional experience that goes beyond tantalisin­g the palate.

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 ??  ?? Legend: 1 Entrance Foyer | 2 Bar | 3 Main Dining | 4 Service Pantry | 5 Private Dining Room | 6 Semi-Private Dining Room | 7 Experience Room | 8 Kitchen.
Legend: 1 Entrance Foyer | 2 Bar | 3 Main Dining | 4 Service Pantry | 5 Private Dining Room | 6 Semi-Private Dining Room | 7 Experience Room | 8 Kitchen.
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