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Designing restaurants with intent

Chefs are taking creative control outside of the kitchen, outfitting their restaurants to reflect their cooking philosophies.


Like an alluring piece of art, there’s plenty to take in at chef Kenjiro “Hatch” Hashida’s new spot in Amoy Street. Its design elements express everything from the sushi maestro’s heritage to his hopes and dreams, and even appreciation of mystical symbolism, in his “Hashida Universe” of three dining rooms he designed himself: Ei (meaning moon); Bi, (meaning preserving tradition); and Ou, an alternative pronunciation of sakura.

  • Fine dining


    The front half is inspired by a Shinto shrine, from the stylised gate in the antechamber to the lion-dog statues called shi-shi – one has its mouth opened and the other, closed – that are represented by an open grill opposite a 36.9-cm rectangle of stone on the wall. The number is associated with a life purpose.

(Related: Chef Issey Araki makes his debut at a namesake restaurant)


With themes changing periodically, the decor at Preludio is updated accordingly. Since Monochrome, the debut chapter with black and white tableware, art and other collaterals such as menus, each subsequent theme has been more elaborate. Chef-owner Fernando Arevalo cooks what he calls “Author’s Cuisine” that’s driven by a chef’s vision rather than an adherence to a genre or culture. Few places take this holistic vision as far as Preludio does. It even has an art director, Natalie Tan.

  • Fine Dining


    Preludio’s interiors change with each chapter – as shown here with the autumnal motifs for Time, its second chapter that was inspired by the concept of time and featured steampunk-themed collaterals to complement the dining experience.

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Chef Jason Tan is one of the most successful locally-born chefs trained in classical French cuisine, and has built much of his career around his favourite vegetable, the onion, that features in his signature Oignon Doux Des Cevennes – a four-parter with the allium as a puree, tea, tart and a dehydrated chip. Euphoria, which he opened with partner Arissa Wang, has the onion front and centre, as well as in other interior elements such as the motifs conceptualised by Wang. The pair has also launched JTAW Design, a culinary design studio. The restaurant was its first project.

  • Fine dining


    The centrepiece, a brass-coated chandelier inspired by the multiple layers of an onion, was created as an art deco piece guests could admire upon entry. Weighing 300kg, it took four months to conceptualise and produce as its lighting effects had to be repeatedly tested in the restaurant space.

(Related: Theatrical, unorthodox omakase at Kappo Shunsui)