Burnt Ends is a Michelin star barbecue joint from Australian Chef Dave Pynt, consistently ranked top of the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Burnt Ends is all about producing simple, yet delectable meals cooked on a four-tonne, two-brick kiln with custom grills. When the restaurant moved from its Singapore Chinatown location to Dempsey, Dave Pynt appointed Interior Designer Emma Maxwell to capture his vision for the interiors.
Emma Maxwell is the founder and Interior Design Director at Emma Maxwell Design. Emma’s design approach is thematic, with a passion for detail and craftsmanship, working with clients including Michelin starred chefs, restaurateurs, and leading luxury hotel groups. Emma appointed Stephen Gough, founder and Principal of Project Lighting Design Pte Ltd, to create the lighting design scheme for the project. Stephen has over 30 years of experience in architectural lighting design, completing several of Singapore’s most iconic developments, and PLD has received numerous international lighting design awards for its work in high-end hospitality. Stephen specified products from Aero Light, a lighting manufacturer that specialises high-end hospitality lighting.
Speaking to Emma and Stephen, it is clear how passionate they both are about the project. Emma explains how she became involved, “I was a regular at the restaurant as it was one of my favourite spots. I got to know Dave Pynt well and loved his vision, ethos, and food. When the opportunity came up to move the restaurant, he reached out to me to pitch as a designer. What swung it in my favour was that I intrinsically knew the DNA of the restaurant and how to get the design just right.”
The interior design created separate experiences within the larger restaurant spaces, “The challenge was to keep the features that made the original restaurant so renowned, whilst evolving them in the context of this larger space. This restaurant is set in a 16,000sqft space, which means we could branch out and add new elements. In addition to the main dining area, a bakery, bar, and private dining room are all new ventures that we incorporated. The client needed each experience within the space to work on a different level, so the main restaurant needed to have a distinct experience to the private dining room, with each area telling a unique dramatic story. The ovens are the heart of the entire restaurant, and the focus of everything from the food to the interior design comes from them.”
Emma explains how lighting played a huge part in achieving this design, “One of the main emphasises of the design was to maintain a sense of intimacy so that guests feel interconnected with others in the dining space and with the chefs. We used lighting as layers to form levels of intimacy to fit the brief. The lighting scheme helps sculpt what each individual feels like in that space.”
Stephen explains why he chose Aero Light fixtures and how they met the brief, “I have been a big fan of Aero Light for some time, having used their solutions in several projects in the past. Their ranges are tailored to hospitality lighting and is part of what drew us to them. The other reason we selected them is that they have an incredible range of equipment that not only looks aesthetically amazing but is technically very well thought through and performs exceptionally well. The colour of LED chips are very warm and rich with a high colour consistency. It is rare for a manufacturer to have such a wide bandwidth in one catalogue, yet Aero’s design team have crafted a wide range of products from small architectural downlights to linear LED strips with a various of accessories and fixtures sizes, beam angles to suit a range of ceiling heights.”
Stephen explains where Aero Light fittings were used, “Aero Light products were used throughout all the restaurant spaces, the bakery, and as exterior lighting to spotlight the outside al fresco dining area. The range of products means we could use various fixtures to suit the needs of each space within the restaurant.”
Talking further about the lighting design process, Stephen explains how it works in harmony with Emma’s interior design, “The space itself lends itself to dramatic lighting through high ceilings, exposed rafters, and a lot of volume. The lighting needed a dramatic flair, but nothing too punchy that would alienate guests from the rest of the experience, as the brief emphasised the importance of diners interacting with guests and the chefs in an intimate way. We were able to successfully layer the lighting to highlight Emma’s design, which had complex elements to it and produced a great deal of character. As lighting designers, we take the lead from the interior design in terms of lighting materials and features, giving us a wonderful opportunity to play with the lighting.
“The lighting principles varied throughout the different spaces to create distinct experiences. In the private dining room the finishes are black, so the tactic we decided to take was to use a very narrow lighting beam to create a very intimate space, accentuated by the glowing fire of the ovens. The bar almost acts as a standalone venue on its own, taking on its own identity. The bar featured small cabinets which Emma accessorised with beautiful artifacts. We used tiny, low wattage downlights and spotlights to intricately detail the liquor bottles.”
No project is without its challenges, especially during the last couple of years. Emma states, “It was a challenging project as it was completed during COVID, we experienced supply chain issues, and certain things we had planned were no longer possible. The main challenge was staying true to the original idea when everything around us was changing.” Yet she states that the finished project is more than worthwhile, “It was an incredibly rewarding experience having a team work together so tightly, from the client’s side to the lighting design, to achieve such a phenomenal result.”
Project: Burnt Ends Restaurant
Client: Chef, Dave Pynt
Interior Designer: Emma Maxwell Design
Lighting Designer: Project Lighting Design Pte Ltd
Lighting Supplier: Aero Light