When Lim Siew Hui was approached by Merci Marcel to design their new French brasserie/café/bar in Tiong Bahru, she was very excited as the designer has always loved all things Parisian. 'My little Paris' and 'Hip Paris' happened to be the only two blogs that Lim Siew follows and having visited Paris numerous times, Le Marais being one of her favourite districts, coupled with the location of their new venue at an old shophouse in Tiong Bahru, the designer instantly knew what the design approach should be.
Lim Siew Hui wanted to draw inspiration from the unpretentious, cosy, hip restaurants one can find in Le Marais or Monmartre. She wanted to infuse that Parisian vibe into the space but not forgetting the location of the venue. In order to give the venue a more soulful depth, she believed it was imperative to celebrate the local elements too. Hence the introduction of some of the tropical elements and retaining the old shophouse design elements i.e the ubiquitous metal grills and the metal framed windows.
The Courtyard is a wonderful bonus allowing diners to enjoy a courtyard setting, removing the exising roof and introducing a skylight to allow the natural light in. The introducation of greenery to the space is always an important element in Hui's designs, who often collaborates with John Lim, a talented local Landscape architect, to work on the plants. Hanging plants and string lights were introduced to heighten the courtyard ambience and imparting a magical and romantic atmosphere in the evenings.
The Venue features a vivid, citrus-toned palette, exposed rustic white-washed walls and beautiful mustard yellow and white diamond shaped floor tiles. This pattern was pretty much inspired by a pierrot clown/ harlequin doll the designer had as a child.
The main dining space is grounded by a long bar counter with arched back bar shelf unit, custom-designed and made in solid oak wood and marble top and antique mirror backing. The pendant lights, hanging above the counter by Antoinette Poisson – a longstanding Parisian printing house to hand make and design the venue’s distinctive bar lampshades, recommended by the Clients.
A large round mirror is strategically located adjacent to the banquette seat to break the monotony and grounded by a custom-designed blush coloured terrazzo top round table with hanging rattan lamp-shade, which was found and selected from a shop in Paris. The Delphine Miguel Gio school chairs were also found online and purchased directly from Paris while the Clients were back there for their summer vacation.
The wine racks frame the space and are custom-designed to suit the Operator’s requirements, fabricated in antique finished brass pipes, wooden shelves and gold metal mesh.
Hui design mixes up the furniture a little, with vintage pieces - the hostess station is a vintage piece Liew found from a friend’s Vintage shop called Moblër Singapore. The service station adjacent to the kitchen pass was an old piece left behind by the previous tenant which both designer and client thought could be recycled.
At the Entrance, an inverse bay-window with seating was deliberately introduced so that one could sit there with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, with a book or just simply sit there and watch the passersby.
The throw cushions fabric choice was requested by the Client, to impart some French characteristics to the space and also it is imperative that the owners add their personal touches. The cushion fabrics are by La Maison Manuel Canovas as their signature pop art patterns cleverly reinterprets the “Toile de Jouy” – a classic French fabric pattern.