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London-based design studio Nice Projects, the brainchild of two industry veterans, Simone McEwan and Sacha Leong, have unveiled their latest project—the new French restaurant in Dempsey Hill, Singapore. Dubbed Claudine, this richly layered hospitality venue is housed within a 1930s Ebenezer chapel reimagined with a fresh new identity.

With a gothic edge, the interior uses the visual language of a traditional French brasserie as a starting point. The designers have conceived a convivial dining hall, tying the space into the context of the local landscape and surrounding nature.

Working with the strong existing architecture, Simone and Sacha set out to create human scale within the soaring height volume. The existing mosaic floor has been given a sensitive update throughout and extended to incorporate new elements as a reference to iconic French brasseries.

 

Related: Michaelis Boyd Designs Restaurant Duddell’s in a Historic St Thomas Church, London.

 

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As guests enter the restaurant, their eyes are drawn to the impressive 15-metre long lighting feature that snakes across the entire width of the space, custom made by Santa and Cole. On the left, a glimmering brass-backed bar sits below the preserved, colourful abstract stained glass window. The gabled roof has been painted a deep earthy red to complement the stained glass and add richness and warmth. The bar, with its soft grey marble counter and all its activity, becomes the focus of the room.

Nice Projects also designed an immersive artwork, enveloping the entire dining room with pressed grass panels, made from locally foraged plants. Inspired by the artist Herman de Vries, this interior landscape required the fabrication of fifty custom panels measuring 1.9 metres high. Simone and Sacha invited local botanical designers Humid House to bring their expertise to the site-specific artwork, ‘Singapore Pastoral’. With research carried out in the archives of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Humid House developed a technique using oversized plant presses to preserve the colour and form of these native plants.

 

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Pre-dinner drinks are served in the bar lounge on pale grey-green leather armchairs by Finnish manufacturer Adea. These horseshoe-shaped, high backed chairs create a sense of closeness.

In the central area, banquettes that accommodate larger groups have been designed in homage to the Parisian Art deco designer, Jean Lurcat. Upholstered in velvet, they are plush and quietly luxurious, sitting on burnt sienna wool rugs which ground the space. The banquettes are upholstered in grass green velvet, with the seatbacks in a complementary sage green cut velvet from Paris fabric house Lelievre.

From people-watching and group gatherings in the centre to alcoves and private corners, Claudine is the whole package.

 

Related: Compact Apartment in Singapore by Open Studio.

 

 

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