In the ever-changing Asian city of Singapore, the Hong Kong based André Fu Studio wanted to stop time with a Cantonese restaurant that is a deeply romantic and nostalgic interpretation of Chinese supper clubs. In light of what the world has been through in the past two years, at a time when borders are finally opening up again and friends and families are finally able to come together, creating experiences for people, especially diners, has become, he says, even more important. “The beauty of hospitality is that it brings people together. Restaurants give us the feeling of escape and reconnection through food,” explains André Fu, founder of the firm. This sense of connection underpins the interior design of 5 ON 25, a casual and exuberant diner serving local cuisine and tze-char, communal and affordable dishes that are close to home-cooked meals. Here, Fu worked to stitch together the physical space of the restaurant, the communal dining experience and the emotional resonance for the customer. The result is a completely redesigned and elegant 321 square metre restaurant that seats 68 diners in the main dining room and two private suites.
Memories of going to traditional Chinese restaurants and teahouses as a child provided Fu with the initial reference point for his 5 ON 25 moodboard. The restaurant reflects the hypnotic theatricality of those convivial spaces of round tables around which people gathered to eat and share food. Places bathed in the steam of dim sum and the cinematographic charm of an era crystallised in time.To this end, the studio wields a rich colour palette that mixes ruby, dark chocolate, a splash of dusty pink and emerald green, with textured velvet, lacquer and warm wood tones to evoke the old world charm of 1950s Singapore, sophisticated but also said to be slightly extravagant to align with the di Fu of the Andaz narrative. The furniture and accessories, for example, are entirely custom-made. Oak wall panels, stained in a rich shade of espresso, are framed by mirrored panels, parquet floors and modular bronze chandeliers, while Roman veils are raised to reveal the shimmering skyline of Singapore’s skyscrapers and the roofs of the turn-of-the-century shop houses below.
Along the central axis of the dining room is a glossy lacquered pistachio green ceiling panel etched with an intricate lattice pattern, while rattan-backed chairs and sofas are upholstered in silk, leather and chinelle. The effect is to evoke a reinterpreted sense of old world charm. For Fu, the biggest challenge in designing 5 ON 25 was the fact that it is located on a floor with distinctly different concepts of drinking and dining. Each space had to have its own personality, but when read together, a cohesive visual DNA emerges. In other words, it’s not just aesthetics that counts. Design must have a pragmatic side. For Fu, no matter how well designed it may be, a restaurant that doesn’t have a human element doesn’t make sense.The design of the restaurant fits completely with Andaz’s aesthetic and emotional approach to hospitality. The final design is an open window into an era that is firmly rooted in Hong Kong’s history but looks to the contemporary era to bring a slice of its more intimate and nostalgic history.