A fishy tale

A fishy tale


Dwp (design worldwide partnership) has created the interiors for the recently launched Belon Oyster Bar & Grill, located on the top floor of the Banyan Tree hotel in Macao, Hong Kong.

The venue boasts enormous windows with views over the Macao skyline and is evocative of an underwater experience set over 2,000m².

Dale Yeo, design director, dwp, Hong Kong, said the team was asked to develop a concept based on the venue being a specialty restaurant with an oyster bar, including spaces for private rooms, a wine cellar, grill bar with food display, gueridon (trolley) service, and a given seating number requirement.

Starting with the oyster shape, the design takes reference from a continuation of underwater forms, movements and colours.

Curvaceous oceanic shapes and details, are inspired by aquatic forms of scallop tails, jellyfish, tentacles, waves and spiralling shells.

“There was much discussion with the client, but dwp drove the concept for the brief,” he said.

“The most eye-catching features are the glass staircase, the double-story whalebone arch corridor, the scallop-inspired grill bar with adjacent double-height wine cellar, and the starlight ceiling lighting made, from a series of wave-shaped, and undulating-height, suspended crystals.

“The private rooms are more low key, though they still have a relaxed glamour. The rich timber wall panelling, tall windows and drapery make these spaces comfortable and intimate.”

From the entry, guests walk down a glass staircase, where they pass a waterfall and custom kinetic artwork, via a long reception, to arrive at the oyster bar.

The glass stairs glow deep blue underfoot with a blue translucent canopy on the ceiling like a curling ocean wave. The waterfall passes to the right from a double height ceiling to the pool below.

To the left, a glistening kinetic crystal suspended sculpture moves and sways in the imaginary current. A shallow water feature, as an extension of the waterfall, leads guests along the long, low and curving entry way, towards the bar and lounge.

“The floorplan sits on the long slender arm of the hotel wing. Working within this outline, the restaurant is laid out to create a procession, from an intimate entry landing, down and through a variance of low and high ceiling spaces along the spine, right to the end point of the private dining rooms,” said Yeo.

“The top levels of the hotel presented numerous structural configuration issues and a very congested services arrangement. The very low ceiling height area between the entry and main

dining spaces was a challenge to create sufficient space for necessary services, though also presented an opportunity to create a sense of drama upon arrival.

“Services for the building and restaurant itself both jostle for space under the large beams, and the curving ceiling bulkheads create opportunities for additional space for them to snake through.

“Being sandwiched between the hotel and plant rooms, several ducts and risers needed to be added through the restaurant during the construction period, and were concealed within partitions and feature elements. The tall windows needed additional structural support for safety, which was integrated into the housing of the window treatments.”

From the lounge bar, the whalebone arch corridor leads into the dining rooms with double-height starlit ceilings. The arch is meant to symbolise a cage within an enormous whale where the bones curve around them.

The focus of the dining area is the curvaceous grill bar and fresh food display, with lobster tank.

Between the lower lounge seats and the higher dining tables, rows of clear columns trap bubbles of air rising up to the ceiling. Overhead, suspended crystals are reminiscent of a starlit ocean sky at night. In places, sinuous blown glass chandeliers of jellyfish shapes descend above the tables.

At the head of the dining room, sculpted like a swirling scallop tail, is the open grill. Paired with the visually dramatic wine cellar behind, and together forming a circular shape, they sit at the centre of the restaurant like a nexus.

The private dining areas are tall elegant spaces, divided by heavy drapery, with full double-height dark timber wall cladding. Glowing privacy screens circle the dining tables which are set beneath blown glass chandeliers.

The material palette contrasts between soft and warm, hard and cool. Inspired by an underwater environment, smooth sweeping surfaces are complimented with delicate, and sharp edges. The colour scheme is based on a soft colour bed of sandy beiges, coral pinks, and creamy shell tones, which is animated by plunging deep blues, rich orange and turquoise, aqueous light blues and greens.

The interior materials and finishes play alongside the contrasting elements, consisting of heavy natural stones, rich timbers, crystalline materials and coloured glass. Warm materials are illuminated by translucent aqueous features and beaded panels.

The flooring moves between deep grey and green stone in the entry way, to the dark washed timbers in the dining area and soft creamy carpets in the lounges, designed with wavy aqua and salmon patterns.

The walls shift from softly illuminated organic forms, to heavily timbered dark burl finishes, in the private dining rooms. The windows have suspended LED light strand curtains, framed by heavy drapes. Custom-made curvilinear furniture pieces are upholstered in an oceanic tonal colour palette, leathers and soft fabrics.

Sailing arms, wrapping edges, curling and repeated oceanic shapes represent manta rays, sea turtles and anemones. The upholstery is a variation of crisp white leather and velvet cushions. The ceiling morphs into a spiralling array of coves, like a giant conch shell.

Yeo said he gets his inspiration from ‘a diverse variety of sources, culture and reading, often using elements that are evocative of associations and memory’.
“I believe it is important to maintain a sense of resolved simplicity, especially when navigating through complex ideas and combinations. This brings clarity and comfort to people occupying a space,” he said.

dwp is currently working on a project for Hong Kong Jockey Club.

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