Appetite by Ivan Brehm

There’s a term in aesthetic theory: gesamtkunstwerk. It’s a German loanword that translates as “total work of art”, and – at the risk of over-simplifying things – refers to a unifying work of art that combines multiple disciplines or philosophies into a coherent whole. It’s not a term one often hears outside the art world, but if all intentions materialise for chef Ivan Brehm’s latest multi-concept space, Appetite, the unwieldy noun might be an apt way to define this project.

Saying “multi-concept space”, however, is the lazy way out. The 2,000 sq ft space is part restaurant and part art gallery with a listening room that houses a massive record collection. There are ticketed dinners that cost $350 per person as well as relatively affordable a la carte snacks and wines by the glass.

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Designed by Akira Kita, also responsible for Brehm’s restaurant Nouri, Appetite is built like an exclusive member’s club, but everyone is welcome. It’s Brehm’s crystallisation of a focal point where people would go to not only partake in but create culture. Like a modern-day Les Deux Magot, a famous cafe in Paris, France, Appetite will host thinkers and the curious, all fuelled by food and drink – except that instead of absinthe and a steak, patrons might be having uni arancini and orange wine from Japan.

“We’re at the stage where people feel bad about being in a place that’s too nice because they feel like they don’t belong there.”

Even though Appetite stems from Brehm’s background in food, he’s gathered a group of similarly-minded people, each with their speciality, and put them in charge of curating a section of the space. Of particular focus is its art programming, where curated exhibits run periodically, with artworks displayed around the establishment.

Anyone can come in to eat and drink, and enjoy and connect with the works, offering gallerists and artists a place where food is experienced in a setting that’s more accessible and comfortable than, say, a gallery or a museum. “We’re at the stage where people feel bad about being in a place that’s too nice because they feel like they don’t belong there. That’s how bad it is.

Suddenly, normal folk can’t experience things that are beautiful because they self-censor. But the reality should be that it’s for everyone – this lady did not paint this $35,000 painting because it’s worth that amount. She painted it because it’s beautiful, and she wants to say something,” explains Brehm. Also in the pipeline is a series of masterclasses and workshops where no topic is off-limits, including “accounting and bondage”.

Appetite by Ivan Brehm

The decks at Appetite will see all sorts of music – from New Wave to Singaporean rock from the 60s.

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A considerable roster has already been lined up to make sure the space is diverse. The idea is to keep drawing people, whether they are lawyers, accountants, artists or musicians, back to Appetite. Conversations might happen at a stairwell or over a particular record – and eventually, ideas are born in the space.

“We want the experience to be as close to a house party as we can,” says Brehm. This egalitarian vision might seem at odds with what is outwardly a spin-off of a fine dining restaurant. Still, the $350 dinners and bottles of 50-year-old single cask whisky help to pay for everything that makes the experience possible, including the gorgeous furnishing and sound system, a full-time curator and a music director. As with all art, good stuff happens at the points of tension – and hospitality is no exception. So, come and whet your mental and gastronomical appetite.

Photography Darren Chang

Art Direction Ashruddin Sani

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