Come to the dark side—they have steak. For AB Steak by Chef Akira Back, ETHOSpace founder David Tay and his team wanted to create a sensory immersion that invites guests to explore enjoyment of food beyond the visual. He turned to the Javanese performance art Wayung Kulit (a shadow puppet play) for inspiration.
Giving shadow more design weight (the shell of the restaurant, including ceiling and walls, is dark) and swapping cool or neutral lighting for a dusky, firelit tone highlights the seductive blend of sensory delight in food and environment. By limiting the light level, guests are forced to focus as much on the taste and smell of the food, and the heat of the fire as they are on the “presentation” of the dish.
Every sense gets addressed in the team’s design. The extensive use of flame tones and motifs isn’t just a motif. A water-based element simulates fire (though, as Tay notes, it doesn’t heat the room, in the name of guest safety). The open layout makes the scents wafting off the grills even more tempting. Artwork by the chef’s mother (an acclaimed artist in her own right) provides a singular visual element that acts, due to the darkness of the surroundings, as a magnet for guests’ eyes.
Tay curates the materials palette as carefully as he does the colors he and his team choose. Stone, wood and metal dominate the design.
It’s not, he insists, stripping down the look for the sake of aesthetics. Instead, it’s creating design, that, like fine art, removes the unnecessary to emphasize the beauty of what remains—from the textural beauty of a metal accent wall to the perfect piece of BBQ. Bon Art-petit!