STUDIO DOHO was commissioned to design the new Malabar in Shanghai. The existing bar wanted to reinvent itself as a premium, upscale eatery that focuses on a fusion of Spanish and Japanese cuisine.
“我们希望以当代手法重塑融合派设计，灵感源自老石库门融合派建筑及日式和风繁复朴素的精致图案，同时以西班牙风情的温暖色彩点缀其中。” STUDIO DOHO的主创设计师Xin和Jason谈到。
‘We wanted to keep it a contemporary modern venue with only a subtle reference to Japanese elements. Inspiration comes from the history of the brand and the austere repetitiveness of Japanese patterns, coupled with the warmth and welcoming feeling of Spanish culture,’ said Xin and Jason from STUDIO DOHO.
Sakaba Malabar is located on the street front of an old Shanghai Shikumen inspired facade on Wuding Road, where a few famous western bars and restaurants have settled for years. The old Malabar, a well-known Spanish street-style restaurant and bar, had been in business for 9 years before deciding to change the concept to more mature version of its previous self. The owner decided to carry out a thorough renovation to create a new, unique concept for the restaurant, that is cool and sophisticated, but still offers a welcoming feeling.
The previous space was a typical bistro street style. Scattered tables and chairs occupy the dining area with a bar located on the side, a very casual vibe that placed more emphasis on the drinks rather than the interior design.
Optimized Spatial Planning
‘The existing space had a central column, which dictated the layout of the re-design. It was difficult to fit the full program in the small space, but we worked closely with the owners to optimize every centimeter,’ explained Xin.
To adopt a completely new spatial arrangement, DOHO inserted a U-shaped bar occupying the center and becomes the main social spot and visual focus. The bar accommodates 20 people and gives guests an intimate atmosphere, providing a fun interplay between diners, servers, and the kitchen. The adjacent side accommodates another 20 diners, offering a slightly more private dining environment. The backrest is wrapped in vintage leather to bring a feeling of relaxation and comfort. On the side of the entrance, a small lounge area is also set up for late-night guests have a cozy place to drink and chat.
Sophisticated Material Palette
Despite the strong cultural identity and story of the restaurant, the overall material palette is deliberately more neutral with the contemporary materials such as perforated metal, aged leather, vintage mirror, and glass. The cultural character only plays subtly in the whole design.
Grey bricks on the sidewall of the space creates a neutral backdrop which is overlayed with textures, patterns and graphics. The hollow partition wall is also made of bricks at the back serves as a dark feature and backdrop to the space; the pattern is a reference to traditional Japanese interior dividers.
Mirrors and glass were largely used to make the restaurant feel brighter and more spacious as well as suitable but also serve as a writing surface to promote wine and sake specials, as well as fun messages—a wink to the spirit and vibe of the original Malabar.
Jason elaborated that ‘materiality was a key consideration in the project. This mix of strong materials such as black brick creates a canvas for lighter materials, including leather and glass, to create a level of sophistication.’
Integrated Custom Elements
With a row of built-in wine cabinets on the left, the arched opening is intended to highlight a curated selection of wines and sake. The arch also softens the industrial feeling of some displays and breaks down the scale of the wall.
The Spanish paving and color inherit the DNA of the old Malabar, with patterns symbolic in shape and style integrated with a Japanese twist. A custom designed pattern floor tile was installed in the dining area, while the area around the bar utilizes a dark-toned wood installed with a chevron pattern.
With a brand-new upgraded menu that is more refined and diverse, and the small details that pay tribute to the crew, seem to remind us that the core of a long-standing restaurant is its food and people. We hope to capture the soul by creating the atmosphere with design, giving an experience that ages gracefully.
▲轴测图 Axonometric drawing
设计团队：Amy Yan, Wendi Zhao
摄影：Marius Ionita, Brian Chua
Design scope：Interior design
Lead Architects：Xin Dogterom, Jason Holland
Design team：Amy Yan, Wendi Zhao
Photography：Marius Ionita, Brian Chua
Drawing and Diagrams：STUDIO DOHO