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8 months ago

Feast and Form Magazine

Food, architecture and design in Singapore, and a little from around the world

Ethnic interiors A Chat

Ethnic interiors A Chat with PAULA O'CALLAGHAN Senior Associate at Hirsch Bedner Associates “ Do your research and do not be afraid to bounce ideas off of people who are of that particular ethnicity or culture to see what their perception of your idea is." How long was the design process for Jiang-Nan Chun restaurant at Four Seasons Singapore – seeing that it has such rich ethnic elements? The whole process from start to final installation was about 8 to 9 months. We had about 2 weeks to pull together the concept story and about another 2 to 3 weeks for the actual schematic design development and re-planning, followed by a few weeks for design documentation. Some of the details, such as the carved panels, could not be drawn or documented traditionally, as they are meant to appear like genuine, handcrafted, “found” elements. For these, we had to work closely with the contractor who sourced them in China. PAULA O'CALLAGHAN, on designing ethnic interiors. Having an arts background coupled with an architecturally-oriented design education, Paula has the unique capability of working in both the decorative and technical aspects of a project. How do you approach ethnic and culture-rich hotel projects such as this without being cliche, jarring and predictable? Do your research and do not be afraid to bounce ideas off of people who are of that particular ethnicity or culture to see what their perception of your idea is. If they tell you something is too themed or cliche, you have to be sensitive enough to listen, learn and amend the design. On a Siam Kempinski project in Bangkok, I constantly sought the judgement of the Thai project manager and local furniture contractor. After they realised that I was genuinely interested in their opinion, they openly offered their perspective. There were many candid, fruitful discussions on what elements were uniquely Thai versus Chinese, Indonesian, or simply generically “Asian". As you are based in Singapore, and have been living here for some time what are your favourite local foods? Oh, I'm such a foodie! So the list is rather long. Here are some of my favourite local foods: chicken rice (roasted, breast cut preferred), kway chap (ang moh style, without offal), bak kut teh, mee siam, char kway teow, laksa (Singapore version), duck rice (dry, without sauce), char siew rice (dry, without sauce), siew yoke (dry, Hong Kong style with hot mustard), yong tau foo (soup with beehoon), popiah, fried beehoon, herbal chicken soup, nasi lemak, chilli crab, chilli baby sotong (squid, the crispy kind), roti prata, sardine puff (extra spicy). Story by writers Carol Kraal and Sara Graav (Design Consultant). Photographs courtesy of Hirsch Bedner Associates. Food photographs: prata by Alan Lee; nasi lemak by Seet Ying Lai Roti prata and nasi lemak (far right) are some of foodie Paula's favourite Singapore dishes 35 feastandform.com feastandform.com 36