Laksa and Palm Trees in Russia
Russia, Restaurant Design –
Singapore-based design studio HOT DESIGN FOLKS creates a Singapore Style restaurant now open in the centre of Yekaterinburg
PILLOWY BAO, steaming bak kut teh, rich laksa, durian ice cream, TWG tea.
Soyka Rest has so many delicious Singapore things to eat, but what do local Russians think? What happens when they catch a whiff of that durian ice cream as they spoon it into their mouths?
This dining experience of fun, excitement and adventure is what Interior Design and Concept Studio HOT DESIGN FOLKS intended in the design language of the restaurant’s interior, a Singapore Style that combines contemporary and vernacular elegance amidst lush tropical colours of palms, ferns, fronds and Singapore Slings.
As you enter the restaurant, which is housed in a quaint heritage building, you are immersed in an eclectic and refined colonial setting with Peranakan ceramic art and motifs. Near the reception area, your heart skips a beat at the stunning sculptural island bar with its three tiers in brass lined with bottles of liquor and their vibrant colours, a pink cocktail waiting on the counter.
Unleashing Singapore Style on Russia with expertise is Founder and Lead Designer of HOT DESIGN FOLKS, Evgeniya Lazareva, who has been living and working in the Lion City for more than six years:
Soyka Rest is inspired by Singapore for its interiors and story concept. Key elements include classical colonial details, Peranakan art and craft, and lots of tropical greenery. The original idea for the restaurant’s food came from Singapore’s hawker centres where you can try a wide mix of different Asian dishes.”
Under the dome of the exposed brick vaulted ceiling, vintage globe pendant lights anchor the dining area, as high and low banquette sofas combine with loose furniture groups to offer a variety of dining scenarios. Soft silhouette murals of jungle creatures across the walls juxtapose large mirrors that open up the space and serve as a decorative focal point across the room.
The warmth of wood enriches every angle of space: Woven rattan and wood wall features, parquet floors, old-school Singapore coffeeshop chairs – all blending with Peranakan inspired contrasting hues of rich greens and tangerine orange to bring forth Singapore’s vernacular traditions.
Further inside lies the heart of the restaurant – an open plan kitchen with wood fired oven where bustling chefs add an element of drama. Above, the mezzanine floor cradles Soyka’s micro-herb garden in a design inspired by Victorian glasshouse architecture.
Eclectic, enticing and stylish. The rich vernacular elements and playful contemporary details of Soyka Rest create a fun dining experience infused with the zesty atmosphere of Singapore.
A Chat with EVGENIYA LAZAREVA, Founder and Lead Designer at HOT DESIGN FOLKS
Sweltering, drowned in greenery, urban jungle Singapore is probably one of the most technologically advanced megapolises of our times. Yet, there are probably few other places where you’d find such a strong bond with tradition. Nostalgic reminders of the olden days – Peranakan shophouses and colonial mansions stand cloaked with old tales and beliefs. Whilst working on Soyka I wanted to capture this sentimental and peculiar character, where every element of the interior is a chapter in a storybook.”
Russian native interior designer, Evgeniya, has been living in Singapore for so long she loves fiery laksa, and has no problems speaking Singlish, the local colloquial lingo
What are some of Singapore’s Peranakan elements that you used in the restaurant interiors, and why did you use them?
Peranakan ceramic art played a big role in shaping the look of Soyka Rest. A heady blend of contrasting colours, floral and geometric motives all at once, which I streamlined and expressed through the large blocks of hexagon tiles and tropical murals. Choice of interior scheme fell onto the traditional combination of peacock green and tangerine orange hues. Another subtle touch is the dining tables – they follow the shape of an octagon also known as an auspicious Pa Kua in Feng Shui.
Do you have a favourite part of the restaurant in terms of its design?
My favourite piece, and also one of the most challenging elements, is the island bar. One of the key inspirations for the design was a Tiffin Carrier, the traditional lunch box concept, a layered cake of containers each filled with flavoursome ingredients. This idea led me to a three-tier structure. Multiple shop drawings, prototypes and phone calls later, we overcame engineering challenges, and the slender freestanding cantilever back bar became reality.
Is it easy to work with Russian contractors and vendors?
Working with various contractors and vendors always brings along new challenges and experiences. With Soyka we were lucky enough to collaborate with an attentive and helpful group of vendors. The team was always ready to offer advice and support, which is key for a successful project. Together with passionate and hands-on client we managed to overcome the challenge of a long distance project management and achieve the results we were aiming for.
What tastes do rich, young Russians have in interior design for their homes today?
Millennial Russians tend to lean away from the flamboyant and overly decorative interiors of the early 2000s. Being exposed to global social networks, the latest trends of Salone de Mobile and Mason Objet quickly find their way to the hearts and homes of the young population. Today we are more likely to see clean lines, modernist interiors in nude tones with generous splashes of terrazzo, and of course pantone of the year – living coral.
How do you relax after a hard day at work and what Singapore food do you like?
The best way to unwind and clear my mind after a busy day is a nighttime jog along the Alexandra Canal. I am guilty of frequenting a chicken rice shop next to my office, and the ultimate but very occasional lunchtime treat would be laksa.
Story by Carol Kraal. Photographs courtesy of HOT DESIGN FOLKS and Soyka Rest. Photograph credit for interiors and screen grab food shots – Maxim Loskutov.