The Bird’s Nest Secret has made a name for itself with its first branch located in Bukit Mertajam, Mainland Penang, serving a variety of prized delicacies with a historical tradition that dates back to ancient Chinese civilisations. Bird’s nest, its key ingredient in every sweet concoction, is absolutely delicious and widely believed to provide anti-aging effects and a whole array of other health benefits. Its second outlet, spanning 437 square feet of space, is located in Gurney Paragon, Penang. Expanding from the concept of the first outlet, we decided on a main concept direction of highlighting the beauty of the harvest point of the birds’ nests inside a cave. A real-life modern cave mimicry is ultimately what we want to achieve for this space, coupled with modern elements to represent our contemporary world. In order to bring this idea to life and re-create the experiences felt inside a cave through our human senses, we had to consider the design from several aspects; physicality, visually and emotionally. To mimic a cave-like environment, rough, random and organic forms were employed; we incorporated a manmade stalactite-like structure uniformly to the entire ceiling and walls of the cafe. The form is primarily horizontal obeying a grid series to meet at one end point in order to create a sense of seclusion, or a “tunnel” in a cave. Variations in colours are strictly limited with only one primary colour to achieve a seamless monotone scheme throughout the space – to replicate the concept of a cave. White is used for the background, symbolising cleanliness, purity of the ingredients as well as to visually enlarge the small space. In contrast, the furniture and cashier counter is enlivened with dark, earthy colours such as black, brown and grey. Walking through the boutique café, a sense of seclusion or mystery enshrouds with delight. Towards the end of the oblong space is a slightly tinted mirror, which represents the mysterious end of a cave tunnel. It also gives the illusion of a maximised space by mirroring and thereby elongating the space visually. The length of the space also symbolises the “Path of the Swiftlets”, from a wider café entrance to signify the mouth of a cave to a progressively narrower space towards the end as the swiftlets make their way to their nests. A creative play of lighting further enhances the overall ambiance and symbolic significance. Strategic placement of lighting from the entrance to the end of the space highlights the cave-like structure while twin pairs of downlights give a visual impression of the swiftlets flying towards their nests. The boutique café is completed with a small bronze feature wall at the entrance, which is visible from both sides. Not only does it contribute to the organic design of the café, it also works effectively as an elegant merchandise display. Lastly, the use of natural materials such as Rattan for the chairs and wood for shelving provide a delightful complement to the overall organic and nature-inspired design of the café.
Chaos Design Team:
Charles Khor & Edlyn Tan