Two-Michelin-starred Amber’s elegant interior is by Tihany Design. Photo: handout

Best Ambience – Amber: When fine dining is all about the finest details

  • Tihany Design is behind the stunning redesign of the two-Michelin starred French restaurant
  • The new interior is refined, relaxing, warm and inviting, with neutral colours and organic forms

When Richard Ekkebus, executive chef at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, and culinary director at Amber, contacted Adam D. Tihany, founder and principal of Tihany Design about the redesign of the two-Michelin starred restaurant, he sent him a 12-page brief.

This speaks to the importance of not only the new overall dining experience at Amber that Ekkebus wanted, but also the ambience that he had in mind, something that he was absolutely clear about. This highly detailed vision has been acknowledged by 100 Top Tables, with Amber being awarded the Best Ambience 2021 award.

Ekkebus says: “If I were to condense this detailed vision for the ambience into a few keywords I would say, modern, informal, unassuming luxury.”

The design also had to be “striking, with a strong ceiling feature and, for this level of dining, a touch of bling”, and needed to reflect the new lighter cuisine philosophy, focus on sustainability and a modern fine-dining approach.

For Ekkebus and Tihany, who designed the original interiors, this has been achieved. “The new Amber is light, curvaceous and less formal compared to its original design, which conveyed masculine elegance. It embraces the evolution of fine dining to portray a more personal experience,” explains Tihany.

 The interior of the restaurant is refined, relaxing, warm and inviting, with neutral colours and organic forms. For example, the golden rods that were formerly suspended from the ceiling have been replaced with gorgeous bronze ring crystal chandeliers that retain a sense of intimacy while showcasing the architectural volume of the restaurant.

Richard Ekkebus, executive chef, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

The design also allows for more natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows, and the curving low partitions that snake through the restaurant create intimate pockets in which to dine. There are also custom-made sculptures crafted by local artist Gail Deayton, which are inspired by the surrounding urban landscape and enhance the experience.

The acoustics were important in creating the desired fine-dining ambience, with linen wall panels absorbing sound so that diners are unable to hear conversations at other tables. The lighting is intentionally indirect and soft, and key to the overall vision. 

Sustainability comes into play in numerous ways and in the smallest details, from the naturally stained leather to the artist design 3D printed collapsible stools in which to store handbags.

Ekkebus says that while some may perceive the interior as deceptively simple in appearance, there is, as the above examples show, high attention to every detail. “This is what luxury is now: deceptively simple at first – but when you look deeper, it is then you notice the exceptional craftsmanship. At the end of the meal, discerning diners want to feel nourished and comfortable, a feeling that can only be achieved through clean, pure ingredients. That is the new definition of indulgence.”

The restaurant’s elegant ambience carries this same spirit. Guests are nourished by the softness and the warmth, providing an indulgent escape from the hectic pace of city life. “We wanted to de-formalise the space, while retaining an ambience that was still fine-dining, still high quality, and one that still made the guest feel special. It is fine dining for the modern era,” explains Ekkebus.

On winning the award he says: “I am excited to receive the award, it is flattering and always an honour. It is also great motivation for the team: it uplifts the staff and encourages us to continually go the extra mile.”

See more of 100 Top Tables 2021 here