A golden goose

Ubon

A young architect marries his love for food and design to create thai bistro, Ubon

Architecture graduate, Rashed Al Foudari, from Kuwait University, has designed the interiors of a Thai bistro in the heart of the capital city.

After gaining a bachelors degree in architecture in 2010, Al Foudari started freelancing as a designer, making furniture and working on small interior spaces for various clients.

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“I have a passion for boutique restaurants and cuisines, so I teamed up with one of my colleagues, with whom I decided to start Ubon,” said the architect, who managed the design aspect of the project, with his partner, Dawood Albader, focusing on the staff management and food needs.

The venue overlooks Fahad Al Salim Street, which the graduate said is an area that was well-respected for its commerce many years ago.

While designing the outlet, Al Foudari realised the space of the bistro required an efficient design for all of the kitchen, storage and toilet areas, to allow for a spacious dining area. To make this a reality, the interior works were integrated with the existing structural elements as harmoniously as possible.

He said as the brainstorming for the design proceeded, the vision for the look of the space became extremely clear to him and Albader.

“We liked the existing structure of the space and since there was a huge column in the middle of the area, we tried to utilise it in our design,” said Al Foudari. He added that working with the existing structure of the building, rather than against it, made the final design much more impressive.

The only structural changes he said took place were inserting a small bulkhead for the air diffuser and hiding the mechanical systems.

The burnt wood panels (charred timber) were created by an ancient wood technique called Shou-sugi-ban. Translating into ‘burnt sugi board’, this is a Japanese technique of creating timber cladding meant to last for over eight decades. Sugi is known as Japanese cedar and is burnt to resist rot and fire.

Golden copper elements surround the dining area, and the designer’s aim was to portray the cultural influence in the atmosphere. “I wanted the design to reflect the Asian culture,” he added.

Pendant lights with copper insides were added to soothe the dining area with its organic shape. Adding to the lights’ relevance in the design is the inner golden colour they diffuse; gold as a colour can be seen with regularity in Thai cultural ornamentation.

“We’ve used materials like golden copper to represent how important these materials are in Thai culture. I decided to interpret this importance of gold through the lighting,” he said.

“I chose these particular fixtures because of its minimalist structure. The lights soften the feel with their shape. They are hand beaten from inside the fixture and lend a cozy style to the interiors.” The main light fixtures are from Tom Dixon and the smaller ones from Delta Lights.

These hang above the minimalistic black and white furniture, where the marble tables are custom-made in Kuwait and the chairs sourced from the French brand, Alki.

The bistro’s kitchen is located at the back of the venue and hidden behind a mirrored wall. Giving a visual continuity to the dining area, wooden grains are imprinted on the restroom’s concrete walls. The contrast in colour and material here is brought together by texture. To continue the vertical pattern, the restroom was fitted with a suspended ceiling faucet along with an off-white stand alone basin.

Al Foudari said he was extremely satisfied with the end result, with the design phase of Ubon having lasted approximately one month.

The only challenge the team faced was on dealing with the contractors.

“The problem is, if you don’t have an existing brand name and if it’s your first venture, the contractors want to take it on with an extremely high cost; that’s because of the small scale of the project. Other than that, it was a very smooth process,” added Al Foudari.

He said Ubon was his first project where he was in charge from the beginning to end. “My next step is to establish a design studio,” he added.

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