By AB Concept
This high end French restaurant is a welcoming blend of nostalgia and modernity, where high quality home dining allows guests to eat in style but still let down their guard. The key words when designing The French Window were: upscale, not uptight.
The studio’s primary task was to create a distinct impression with the facade, where the identity of the adjacent retailer had been overpowering. In response it designed iconic, architecturally lit lantern-style columns in wood and wrought iron trim to project out into the mall. Modern lanterns and lush vertical garden panels leads guests part-way along the shared promenade and into the 500 sq m deep-set restaurant along the mall’s sea-facing wall. Yet to arrive there a long transitional space is necessary; the idea was to echo the journey through the dim hallways of a French chateau, and guests get to encounter the restaurant’s impressive wine cellar, the French window motif in dramatic wood louvers and the refined olive palette of cool grays, creams and taupe, before being greeted by the view-drenched lounge and conservatory.
With Victoria Harbour laid out through double-height floor to ceiling windows, the main lounge has been designed to blend rather than compete. The subdued palette creates a sense of tranquility and the scheme is decorative in a subtle, architectural way. Hand-beaten wrought iron and textured glass meet in a series of modern screens, inspired by Parisian antiques and reminiscent of antique French windows.
The designer wanted to give the space a relaxed residential feel, and this comes through in the ornate taupe carpeting and the choice of casual, modern Gallic-inspired furniture pieces. The lighting also works to this effect: functional down lights have been discreetly placed and instead the eye is drawn to decorative floor lamps and suspended lights, all in wrought iron with strong French detailing, and inspired by lucky finds made by the designers in a Parisian antiques market.
This ornate accent tempers the coolness of the more hard-edged materials, like the iron, glass and mosaic floor tiles, as does the careful use of texture. Other playful touches among the furniture add character, such as the stainless steel pan inspired chandelier, small condiment, wine and food display tables and a pantry concealed within a vintage cupboard.
The restaurant is smartly delineated into zones. The 'loggia' evokes a patio, with mosaic stone tiling, simple vintage-inspired furniture and oversized lamps. Long banquet seating, table clusters, the use of carpet and the wrought iron screens then create a layering effect. The screens are flexibly designed on tracks, and can be slid away to open up the venue for large events.
Cozier U-shaped banquet seating comprises the inner dining layer and is elevated to make the most of the view, though anyone facing inwards can instead enjoy the whimsy of ornate trompe l’oeil mirrors on the back wall.
Further inside the salon a discreet VIP room features small naturally French windows connected with the show kitchen so that diners can interact with the chef. Framed photos were handpicked by the designers in Paris to complete the ambience, while a small ornate cabinet houses the chef’s personal collection of wineglasses.