Optimized Spatial Planning
‘The existing space had a central column, which dictated the layout of the re-design. It was difficult to fit the full program in the small space, but we worked closely with the owners to optimize every centimeter,’ explained Xin.
To adopt a completely new spatial arrangement, DOHO inserted a U-shaped bar occupying the center and becomes the main social spot and visual focus. The bar accommodates 20 people and gives guests an intimate atmosphere, providing a fun interplay between diners, servers, and the kitchen. The adjacent side accommodates another 20 diners, offering a slightly more private dining environment. The backrest is wrapped in vintage leather to bring a feeling of relaxation and comfort. On the side of the entrance, a small lounge area is also set up for late-night guests have a cozy place to drink and chat.
Sophisticated Material Palette
Despite the strong cultural identity and story of the restaurant, the overall material palette is deliberately more neutral with the contemporary materials such as perforated metal, aged leather, vintage mirror, and glass. The cultural character only plays subtly in the whole design.
Grey bricks on the sidewall of the space creates a neutral backdrop which is overlayed with textures, patterns and graphics. The hollow partition wall is also made of bricks at the back serves as a dark feature and backdrop to the space; the pattern is a reference to traditional Japanese interior dividers.
Mirrors and glass were largely used to make the restaurant feel brighter and more spacious as well as suitable but also serve as a writing surface to promote wine and sake specials, as well as fun messages—a wink to the spirit and vibe of the original Malabar.
Jason elaborated that ‘materiality was a key consideration in the project. This mix of strong materials such as black brick creates a canvas for lighter materials, including leather and glass, to create a level of sophistication.’