Red House Seafood

Located at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront, right by the iconic Singapore River, the beloved local establishment aims to push not just the frontier in Singapore seafood, but elevate the enjoyment and experience for diners through its interior design and branding.

Established in 1976, Red House Seafood is one of Singapore’s oldest seafood restaurants. Its style of cuisine can be described as ‘Nanyang’, literally translated as ‘Southern Seas’ Chinese. Its rich, layered flavours and preparation techniques have evolved from Canton, Fujian and Hainan origins, to integrate with those of Malay, Indian and Peranakan traditions.

What is the Nanyang style, when it comes to design? The team looked to architecture, art, fashion, and even music to understand what Nanyang-ness means. The style, while difficult to pinpoint, is a mishmash of different influences – just like Nanyang cuisine. It is rich, layered, textured, surprising and full of character. It is a confluence of ideas, cultures, and tastes. The spirit of Nanyang-ness lies in its openness, inventiveness, and resourcefulness.

The design of the new Red House Seafood at Grand Copthorne Waterfront takes reference from the rich and layered Nanyang culture. It is modern, contemporary and culturally diverse, while remaining Chinese at its core. It is where the Far East and South Seas meet.

Deliberately ritualistic, the welcome to the restaurant is designed to heighten the sense of arrival. Guests enter into a long corridor, past private dining rooms, into a foyer, before being ushered into a main dining hall. The hall, with a double volume arched ceiling, is filled with natural light in the day. There are also plants to bring the tropics indoors.

The material palette explores widely used materials that are evocative of the Nanyang style: rattan, timber, and pattered mosaics.
The project also saw the coming together of fellow Singapore creatives. The furniture was designed by Lanzavecchia + Wai, an industrial design practice between Singapore & Italy. They were inspired by vintage mid-century rattan chairs for the main dining hall chairs, a common sight in the Singapore of yore. For the VIP room dining chairs, the studio referenced the archetypal model found in high-end Chinese restaurants. By re-interpreting and expressing through contemporary forms, colours and material palettes, the furniture works with and contributes to the interior design and the project's narratives.

Bespoke wallpaper, fabric and tiles were also specially created for the restaurant, designed by local illustrator Zi Xi, who goes by the moniker MessyMsxi. Using a distinctively ‘Straits Style’ form of drawing that is reminiscent of the artwork from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, various ingredients were intricately illustrated: crabs, squid, fish, along with an assortment of other seafood. ese beautiful and delicate drawings were then digitised and used throughout various spatial elements.

To ensure that there was continuity from Red House Seafood’s previous branding, a refreshed colour palette was also introduced, based on the recognisable ‘Red House’ red. This is complemented by accents of so pastel shades inspired by the Nanyang palette.

Graphically, original patterns were also created to enhance the brand identity. The patterns were deliberately and carefully matched to strengthen visual interest. Through the use of colour and pattern, the space and brand worked in unity to give Red House Seafood a strong, distinctive, and contemporary Nanyang identity.
Completion, 2019
Selwyn Low, Peter Sim, Elwin Chan, Cindy Lee, Oh Wenxin, Ho Shuwei, Tan Jou Wen, Sean Tiang, Wong Xiuhui 
Furniture : Lanzavecchia + Wai  |   Illustrations : Tan Zixi  |   Lighting: Ellie Ueda  |   Spatial Photography: Khoo Guojie  |   Collaterals Photography: The Gentle Studio