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designphase dba has completed work on Element Café, the flagship dining establishment of Singapore’s Amara Hotel in Tanjong Pagar. designphase dba were engaged to re-plan and re-design this well-known, 150-seat establishment, to give it a lift in style and status. The project kicked off in May 2013.

Derek MacKenzie, Managing Director of designphase dba, said, “From the beginning, it was clear that Amara’s management had set their sights on raising the profile of this popular establishment. The re-design of Element Café was in line with their desire to re-engage loyal patrons, as well as to attract new diners from a rising tide of discerning hotel guests, increasingly elegant Tanjong Pagar office workers, and new up-scale mid-city residents.”

The foundation of designphase dba’s conceptual approach lay in the branding of Element Café, interpreting this by positioning the restaurant with renewed enthusiasm towards the ‘elements’ that make for a great dining experience. To do this, the team was also keen to celebrate the origins of the brand, the ‘elements’ of the ingredients and the culinary artistry behind the opulent buffet spread available for its three meals a day.

In re-defining the way a Chef might organise his stock of produce, herbs, spices and ingredients and in a way which could be understood as ‘dining in his kitchen’, the concept came to life with elegant and refined discipline.

Joris Angevaare, Design Director of designphase dba and principal behind Element Café’s design concept, said, “An early aspect of the new layout encouraged the hotel to show its pride in their most popular F&B establishment. By visually connecting Element Café to the lobby, it is instantly welcoming, while a light screen treatment offers discretion from the check-in & check-out activities of the lobby. This helps to introduce the ‘refined, warm and approachable’ character of the concept.”

The beauty of natural products, such as herringbone-pattern laid marble and timber floor, supports the fresh and natural produce displayed on the long buffet, stretching the full length of the restaurant. The buffet, designed as individual ‘tables’ showcasing the delicious offerings look more elegant and light as individual elements. This is emphasised by the ‘plate-stocks’, also individually supported under the buffet. Having the food displayed on independent tables also helps to separate various cuisine categories.

Rising to the ceiling behind the sumptuous buffet is the café’s display of fresh ingredients used in their world-class menu. The design harks back as a more traditional provision shop idea, though polished, purified and refined as a unifying symbolisation of the restaurant’s name.

The segmented internal dining room provides a variety of seating options, from individual guest seating, to full-on, party spaces. These alternatives are operationally supplemented with individual sound and lighting controls. Throughout Element Café, classic original Eames dining chairs emphasise the hotel’s commitment to quality and originality.

Photography © Nino Yaputra for designphase dba

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