Feast for the Senses

A closer look at the in­te­ri­ors of three new din­ing des­ti­na­tions in Sin­ga­pore that of­fer more than just food and drinks – they sat­isfy the senses too

Portfolio - - IN THIS ISSUE - By An­ton D. Javier

A closer look at the in­te­ri­ors of three new din­ing des­ti­na­tions in Sin­ga­pore that of­fer more than just food and drinks – they sat­isfy the senses too

MO BAR, Man­darin Ori­en­tal

In­spi­ra­tion comes first: Ac­cord­ing to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Blue­plate Stu­dios, an in­ter­na­tional de­sign stu­dio that spe­cial­izes in food and bev­er­age spa­ces, “We knew that MO Bar would be some­thing spe­cial. The ho­tel was set out to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence that would dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from many of the tra­di­tion­ally, of­ten im­per­sonal, ho­tel bar en­vi­ron­ments. MO BAR was meant to ap­peal to the mod­ern no­mads that pass through Sin­ga­pore, while po­si­tion­ing it­self as a sta­ple for dis­cern­ing lo­cal lo­cal afi­ciona­dos alike.”

Blue­plate Stu­dios’ de­sign process be­gan by de­vel­op­ing an in-depth nar­ra­tive that en­cap­su­lated the di­rec­tives of the brief and gave them enough com­plex­ity, and mean­ing­ful de­sign pa­ram­e­ters for them to ex­tract mean­ing, and sub­se­quently, breathe life into all lay­ers of the de­sign.

Trans­lat­ing de­sign: For the ini­tial de­sign con­cept, one of the sug­ges­tions was to ex­plore the rein­ven­tion of a tra­di­tional tiki bar, in­fused with Man­darin Ori­en­tal’s de­sign DNA. Blue­plate Stu­dios ap­proached the chal­lenge by ex­plor­ing rel­e­vant port cities to the Man­darin Ori­en­tal brand like Hong Kong and Bangkok. They then moved lo­cally to the rich cul­tural her­itage of the Orang Laut and other sea no­mad cul­tures of the re­gion.

The de­sign ex­er­cise process il­lu­mi­nated key char­ac­ter­is­tics: Folk­lore and tales of the sea, trade and col­lect­ing to­kens and ar­ti­facts, an al­most mys­ti­cal con­nec­tion to the stars and moon for nav­i­ga­tion, as well as a vis­ual lan­guage through tat­toos and hi­ero­glyphs.

Where food and in­te­ri­ors meet:

Blue­plate Stu­dios re­vealed that the F&B menu and de­sign mo­tif were de­vel­oped si­mul­ta­ne­ously, where both were de­rived from a col­lab­o­ra­tive deep dive re­search ex­er­cise into the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the tra­di­tional sea no­madic cul­tures and rel­e­vant ports that sup­ported them. Shares Blue­plate Stu­dios, “There was not a sin­gle meet­ing with the client that did not in­volve Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Mario Cit­ta­dini and the bev­er­age ex­perts from Proof and Co.” What re­sulted then was a col­lab­o­ra­tion that en­sured ev­ery­thing from the cock­tail in­gre­di­ents to the tex­tile se­lec­tions re­in­forced a holis­tic nar­ra­tive.

Re­la­tion­ship of food and space: “They are in­sep­a­ra­ble of course,” says Blue­plate Stu­dios. “The en­joy­ment of food is a vis­ceral ex­pe­ri­ence that is deeply per­sonal. The aro­mas, fla­vors, and tex­tures of food we love are al­ways en­hanced by the light­ing, sounds, and tac­tile in­ter­ac­tion of the spa­ces we in­habit. At MO BAR, the whole ex­pe­ri­ence serves to im­print the mem­ory and con­nects with us all in its own unique way – si­mul­ta­ne­ously nos­tal­gic and ad­ven­tur­ous, in­dul­gent and nur­tur­ing.”


Bring­ing ESORA to life: “The brief for ESORA was for a mod­ern Ja­panese restau­rant and the site was a ren­o­vated shop­house on Mo­hamed Sul­tan Road,” says Mr. Marc Webb, Direc­tor of Take­nouchi Webb. “Through our dis­cus­sions with Chef Shigeru Koizumi and Lo & Be­hold, we slowly de­vel­oped the lan­guage of ma­te­ri­als and form of the space. As the restau­rant was to be cen­tered around the counter/chef’s ta­ble, this be­came the cen­ter­piece of the restau­rant.” The restau­rant name means “drawn sky”, so the sky­light also be­came a strong fea­ture of the restau­rant’s de­sign. “We very much liked the sun­light the space re­ceived, but wanted to mod­er­ate the harsh day­light and cre­ate a fea­ture of it at night. We used a hon­ey­comb-shaped pa­per to cover the sky­light, cre­at­ing a cloud-like ef­fect that dif­fused the light,” re­veals Mr. Webb.

Do fla­vors fol­low form?: “We did try Chef Koizumi’s food,” says Mr. Webb, and adds, “but the de­sign de­vel­oped more from the over­all con­cept of the restau­rant be­ing mod­ern Ja­panese.” The in­te­rior’s de­sign has Ja­panese el­e­ments, such as tim­ber screens and pan­els and back counter wall, but is then bal­anced with ma­te­ri­als not usu­ally found in tra­di­tional Ja­panese restau­rants. Mr. Webb re­veals that the Ja­panese el­e­ments are mod­ern­ized, such as the tim­ber grid screens with a shoji pa­per ef­fect, the back-show kitchen wall that has a styl­ized tokonoma el­e­ment, and the plas­ter with tim­ber pan­els that line the wall.

Keep­ing the kappo tra­di­tion: At a kappo restau­rant, the counter plays an im­por­tant role that al­lows for in­ter­ac­tion be­tween chefs and din­ers. “The counter top was im­ported from Ja­pan and made of Hiba wood from Ao­mori. This is very much the fo­cus of the restau­rant. We didn’t change much of the ex­ist­ing plan, but we did in­tro­duce a stepped down area for the chef, so his eye level is closer to the seated guests and cre­ates a sense of in­ti­macy,” says Mr. Webb.

A mat­ter of feel­ing: “We want to evoke the feel­ings of soft­ness and calm­ness when din­ers first walk in,” shares Mr. Webb. “We want them to feel like they are in a very con­tem­po­rary space, but with small Ja­panese touches. We al­ways want to make com­fort­able spa­ces that do not over­power the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and hope­fully, cre­ate a time­less de­sign.”

Hal­cyon & Crane

Shades of Sichuan: Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Liu Bin, Direc­tor of Hal­cyon & Crane, the cafe’s main point of in­spi­ra­tion was Sichuan, which has a unique cul­ture and many fa­mous land­marks. “Chengdu is a very re­laxed and idyl­lic city and we wanted to bring that laid back at­mos­phere into the space - all while align­ing with the de­sign guide­lines and am­bi­ence of The Paragon, of course.” “We used tex­tures and ma­te­ri­als into the cafe de­sign with­out be­ing too tra­di­tional. As an ex­am­ple, wooden um­brel­las ar­ranged on the ceil­ing serve two pur­poses: Pro­vide shade from the shop­ping mall’s harsh spot­lights, as well as serve as a show­case of tra­di­tional Chi­nese um­brella craft-mak­ing. With the ad­di­tion of artis­tic Chi­nese char­ac­ters, it sub­tly com­mu­ni­cates the im­por­tant cul­tural des­ti­na­tions and land­marks of Sichuan.” What’s more, the city of Chengu is also known as a place with the most num­ber of tea pavil­ions for res­i­dents and visi­tors to re­lax. “We wanted to in­ter­na­tion­al­ize what this was like and bring this to Sin­ga­pore, right at the heart of Or­chard Road.” Feels like home: “When we de­sign an en­vi­ron­ment, one of our de­sign pil­lars and phi­los­o­phy is to make it feel like home,” shares Mr. Liu. “The main el­e­ment is to make it re­laxed, al­low­ing guests to slow down their pace. How­ever, it is not sim­ply about tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from a res­i­den­tial home de­sign. In­stead, we draw in­spi­ra­tion from our in­ner de­sign to feel at home; to be­long.”

To­wards some­thing gen­uine: “Some­times, de­sign is done for the sake of de­sign - beau­ti­ful, lux­u­ri­ous, and sleek lines,” re­veals Mr. Liu. “All of that is not dif­fi­cult to achieve. But the hard­est part is how to make a guest feel com­fort­able within the space. It is not re­ally about how ex­pen­sive the ma­te­ri­als you use are, but it is about bring­ing out the warmth in your heart.” At Hal­cyon & Crane, not only can guests look for­wards to a de­li­cious meal, but also the chance to sit down, re­lax, and feel that the mo­ment be­longs to them. Visit Hal­cyon & Crane at The Paragon, #03-09, Tel: 9727 5121

Visit MO BAR at Man­darin Ori­en­tal, 5 Raf­fles Av­enue, Tel: 6885 3500

Visit ESORA at 15 Mo­hamed Sul­tan Road, Tel: 6365 1266

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