Contemporary and Contextual Studies

Contemporary and Contextual Studies


People would always want to fulfil their needs and satisfaction. They may consume more and more just for their own pleasure. Not only they seek for good things but also they seek for better environment while they can enjoy a unique experience in the space. In this hectic lifestyle people may have more work pressure that cause the changing in people's habit and behaviour. Family and friends may hardly have time to gather. Moreover some of them skip dinner and prefer to eat outside because of their working environment.

Therefore a good atmosphere and unique experience is expected in eating places. People would have a good time to relax and rest while having their meal. In some way they also can gather and have nice talk with their family and friends. This is how the design takes part to enhance the visual appeal and create good environment in the spaces.

Singapore is a multi-cultural nation. There are dozens of different ethnic cuisine. Each of them has their own unique taste. Through blending of several races cause the appearance of some new ethnic groups. It means there will be more and more development in cuisines. All of this improvement may happen as to fulfil consumer's demand.


We are living in a developing world. The food, energy, housing, fashion, transport system are constantly changing. People continuously seek for their greater happiness and satisfaction without realizing that they have already become the victim of consumer society. They may become more materialistic, individualistic and possessive. It will lead to false characteristics that only care for their own good, happiness and harmony.

“Needs are seen as clearly defined gaps, neatly outlined hollows to be stopped up or filled in by consumption and the consumer until satiety is achieved, when the need is promptly solicited by devices identical to those that led to satiety.” (Lefebvre, 1971, p.79)

In some way it seems consumption became a matter of life and death. It can be through starvation, disease, homelessness, flexibility, or comfort. People consume as to fulfil the necessity of their life. However, some people want to find their individual identities by consuming something that is unique and distinct from others. People will always want to raise their standard of living. Either they are rich or poor; it will always be in the same situation.

Since the industrial revolution era, goods were produced in great quantities and can be afforded by a lot of people. People will surely look for better things. People became more and more easily attracted to consume better goods, just for fulfilling their own satisfaction and pleasure. Without even realising, they are also look for places that has better environment. Design of the places has an important role in attracting people to come and buy things, while it also supported by the advertising everywhere that can persuade more and more people.


2.1. Eating habits in Singapore

In this developing world, people tend to have busier lifestyle. The impact of the work pressure can cause the changing in people's habit and eating behaviour. Dinner at home with family may become rare. The working adult skip dinner at home more frequent because of their working environment. For that reason some people prefer to eat outside. Especially Singaporeans always enjoy dining out. Many street food stalls until numerous of five star restaurants were located throughout the country. Singapore was known as multiracial nation. It means that people can choose dozens of different ethnic cuisines. Therefore foods become one of several compelling reasons for visiting Singapore for its ethnicity.

2.2. Unique local cuisine

In the official representation of Singapore as a multiracial nation, the components of people who constitute it are Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasians. Each of the ethnic groups has their own unique cuisines. All of them exist in seemingly harmonious while retaining the distinct culinary and ethnic identities. As the result of blending and through the hybridisation of several races and ethnic groups cause the appearance of some new ethnic groups. In Singapore, people tend to look for ‘Peranakan' food as a unique blend of Chinese and Malay cuisines.

2.2.1. Criss-crossing of the cuisines between the multi-cultures

“Hybridization as creolization involves fusion, the creation of a new form, which can then be set against the old form, of which it is partly made up. Hybridization as ‘raceless chaos' by contrast, produces no stable new form but ... a radical heterogeneity, discontinuity, the permanent revolution of forms.” (Young, 1995, p.25)

In fact, the blending of food is not limited to Peranakan foods alone, but also takes place within the so-called ethnic food itself. Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines had already mixed and blend with each other far beyond the boundaries to create a far greater culinary variety. In general, food, cooking and cuisine in the long term of human history had through a long journey in which cross-fertilisation, infusion, diffusion, absorption, invention and multiple rapidly. The field of food, cooking and cuisine will always improve more freely through the creativity without concern of the limits to hybridisation.

For example, take the Chinese food as the focus of the analysis. What changes have occurred in Chinese food through the contact with other cuisines? What transformations have been brought to the other cuisines in contact with Chinese cuisine? The largest Chinese dialect group in Singapore is the Hokkien (Fujian), followed by Cantonese, then Teochew and Hakka, with smaller groups of Hainanese among others. As the comparison of the cooking method between the two largest groups, which is Hokkien and Cantonese, Hokkien cuisine is said to be heavier than the Cantonese. In contrast to Cantonese cuisine, the Hokkien focus on soups and stews has influenced the cooking method.

“Hokkien food is apt to be cooked more slowly than other Chinese foods: the influence of slow-simmering soups ans stews. For example, mixed vegetables that would be flash fried in seconds in a Cantonese home are apt to be slowly simmered in lard in a Hokkien one.” (Anderson, 1988, p.163)

From that case, there is considerable criss-crossing of culinary influenced between the ethnic group itself. Furthermore, as the resulting in daily contact with the cuisines of Malay and Indians, the result of changing is far beyond the imagination. In some instances, the food consumed by Chinese in Singapore would be unrecognisable to Chinese in China.

There was another fact that cause through the hybridisation of cuisine in Singapore. Nowadays Chinese food had found their way into Malay cuisine. The examples was clearly stated how Chinese food may be hybridised and went through the boundary by making their food ‘Halal'. As the Malay people are mostly Muslim that prohibit on the consumption of ‘pork' or ‘lard'. In short, there was a development of variation in Chinese food that was acceptable to Muslim community. All of the culinary diversion and transformation of the food ways were the results of the consumer's demand expressed.

2.3. Eating places

Besides the unique of the ethnic food itself, a good atmosphere for eating places is also expected of restaurant outlets. Clean, hygienic and designed environment will become the most suitable places for most of the people. Convenience and comfortable is one of the key motivations for consumers. People frequent to seek such restaurants outlets where they can be waited upon and enjoy the tastes of Singapore unique cuisines. They can also gather and have some talks with their family, friends or colleagues while prolonging their stay. Though the food is sometimes much more expensive than that available in hawker centre, Singaporeans will have no doubts about paying for these luxuries.

Equinox and Line Restaurant both have their unique characteristic design to attract people. As shown at the picture the Equinox restaurant use the Chinese oriental as the theme of the restaurant. It also has double volume spaces in their dining area. It is located at the 70th storey of Swissotel the Stamford to allow customer enjoying an extraordinary view outside. The Line restaurant has more modern design. The ceiling becomes one of the centre attractions at the restaurant. It was places in lines and angular manner, while also in bright orange colour. In this buffet restaurant, all the food neatly displayed at the shelves where people can choose conveniently.

2.4. Contemporary restaurant

One of the most popular restaurants for local food in Singapore is the ‘Straits Kitchen'. This buffet restaurant is located at the Hyatt Hotel. Creating different experience, by using timber that lines at the ceiling and continuous the wall. The columns also become the display shelves that contains bottles, cutlery and monochrome pictorials represents the old scene of Singapore. All the local food in this buffet restaurant display in different stations, separate the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranakan. As the consideration for Muslim people, all the food in Straits Kitchen restaurant is halal. So everyone can go and try the good taste of Singapore local cuisine in this buffet restaurant.

Straits Kitchen showcases their culinary team in their open kitchen restaurant. The purpose of open kitchen restaurant is to convince the customer of the fresh ingredients. There are approximately thirty chefs that constantly at work behind the pristine glass stations. Without no doubt, all the food will always warm, fresh and delicacies for the diners to feast on.

2.5. Application to the design

Derived from the Straits Kitchen restaurant, the design for the project has the same good atmosphere and environment as well. Having awareness that the humidity level in Southeast Asian is high; an open kitchen restaurant becomes the best choice in keeping the freshness and quality of the food. All the local foods are proudly present as the menu of the restaurant that display in different stations. Entering the space people will be greeted by the appetizer counter. The main course area is waiting at the centre, right after the appetizer. There will be various meals to choose at the main course zone. Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranakan are served at the open kitchen area. Second level is functioned as main dining area, deserts and bar counter. Dining area is also located at the mezzanine level that can view the open kitchen area below while dining and having a nice view outside.

The concept of the design is derived from the basic knife techniques of culinary arts, which is chiffonade and quadrille technique. Developing the skill of knife techniques will help improve the quality of the food. It can uniform the cooking times and enhance the visual appeal. Chiffonade is a technique for slicing herbs and leafy vegetables into long, thin strips. This is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, and then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine stripes. Quadriller is a term that means to make criss-cross lines on the surface of food. It can also be done to non-grill foods with the back of a knife. It is just a way of improving food presentation and making it look more interesting. The angular planes, layering, overlapping and interlocking are used as the basic of the design to create the spaces.

Incorporating the natural elements in the design, such as water can create different experience within the space. In the open kitchen area, the material of the floor is glass that reflecting the water underneath. So, the feeling is as if we are walking on the water. Each stall also arrange in different split level. In addition, besides the double volume spaces, there are water curtains outside the site that also act as the centre attraction either inside or outside the restaurant. Consequently people will have a very nice view as the site itself surrounded by a lot of greenery. People also may find calmness and having their meal pleasantly in this natural feeling. Furthermore, all the wall and ceiling was also designed in different planes that somehow connected to the furniture, make it in one holistic scheme.


Singapore is a multi-cultural nation that in every ethnic has their own unique taste for food. The blending of cuisine may continue to develop. Every ethnic would influence each other. People will always try to provide something that fulfils people needs. All of these changes may happen far beyond our imagination, depend on the consumer's demand.

In this hectic lifestyle, people try to seek places where they can have time to relax and gather with their family and friends, especially the place for dining. People also look for ideal environment as their eating places. The improvement of the design will take important part to attract consumers' attention. Clean, hygienic, comfort and good environment will become the best choice as a place to dine. People tend to seek such restaurants where they can enjoy the good taste of cuisine, while also having unique and different experience in the spaces.

Due to the high humidity level in South East Asia, open kitchen restaurants become one of the best choices to convince the customer of keeping fresh quality of food. Having good services with pleasant ambience and unique experience would satisfy the consumers. Convenience and comfortable is one of the key motivations to meet consumers needs.



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