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In its first year, Restaurant IBU, located in the very heart of the ever-trendy Vesterbro neighborhood in Copenhagen, has already garnered hefty accolades, including a coveted mention as one of the White Guide's best new restaurants for 2018. Chef Henrik Jyrk's unique fusion of Nordic and Malaysian cuisines, with significant nods to Japan, Korea, Singapore, and elsewhere in Asia, is the reason why, undoubtedly — but the rich, minimalist design, spearheaded by Danish design firm ferm LIVING, also serves to underscore the innovative spirit of the food.
The visual concept, says Trine Andersen, ferm LIVING's founder and creative director, was to unite "the bright and the earthy, the grand scale and the small details, the classic and contemporary" — and all those tensions in a modest restaurant space rife with odd nooks and corners. "We came to the conclusion of creating many smaller spaces for different occasions: a couple of friends out for dinner, the first date or the family party," explains Andersen.
The unifying force is color. Red is an important color in Asia, and it was a prime contender for the palette when Chef Jyrk, IBU co-owner Morten Piltoft, and Andersen first began sharing ideas. But the true red of your typical Chinese restaurant would be too obvious. Instead, Andersen chose deep reds, maroon, rust, and browns — moody shades that tied in with the Nordic influences in the food. "We wanted to make a color scheme which matched the surroundings of the restaurant, which is why we took colors from the rooftops, the buildings, and the light of Copenhagen," she says.
Another through-line: Many of the key pieces in the restaurant are from ferm LIVING's latest collection, dubbed "Nordic decadence" — and there is a sense of opulent minimalism throughout the space. The softness is meant to bring to mind a sense of home.
"A restaurant can be something significantly different from home, but we wanted to create a space that had some of the same elements," says Andersen. "We set out to create an atmosphere that feels nice, welcoming, and comfortable."
Each nook of the restaurant has its own role. "There's the intimate little table for the date, a large round table for the big dinner party, and a seat at the bar, where you get to experience the magic of the kitchen in a shared experience with other guests," says Andersen.
You'll find ferm LIVING's iconic Herman chair throughout the restaurant.
ferm LIVING's black oak shelf and shelf hangers adorn the walls as well.
While rich, dark accents reign throughout, there are strategic pops of warmth — and white.
"You'll find little references to the Asian kitchen as well as little surprising details along the way," says Andersen.
The statement lights above the table in the center of the restaurant are a favorite of one of the chefs, Jesper Nielsen.
"Our decoration and design didn't just focus on tables where people could sit and eat, but on surroundings in which they felt the need to linger," says Andersen.