José Avillez Restaurant, Chiado
Architecture / Interior Design

For the new Belcanto restaurant, with its two Michelin stars, we created a calm, sober, elegant, timeless and intimate space, with great emphasis on comfort. Belcanto is located in the heart of Lisbon, in a structure that offers majestic original characteristics such as high ceilings, tiled vaults and stone arches. We wanted to preserve the truth of the space, developing a project where neutrality and permeability are the two driving forces behind the concept. Neutral, in the sense of a deep respect for the materials and soft distressed colors, noble oak wood, brass, straw and velvet. And permeable because, although there has been a spatial reorganization that creates distinct areas, it does not lose the visual sequence created by the grand iron windows and a curtain, tied open, providing a full and coherent notion of the space. The restaurant spreads itself over two floors. On the ground floor are the entry hall, the dining rooms, the area for preparation of cold cuts and pastries, the Chef’s table, sanitary facilities and the open kitchen. On the first floor there is a more intimate dining room for groups, with an integrated wine cellar and a privileged view over the restaurant. The cold-preparation and pastry area is a longitudinal space-in-space covered in straw panels that slide to reveal or hide thousands of ingredients, utensils and crockery used in Belcanto. While making their way to the Chef’s table, guests are invited to have a peek at the staff, who meticulously prepare every dish that leaves here. The Chef’s table is located in a more private area, deep inside the restaurant. Here, the Chef and his staff receive visitors at a table that embraces this niche, in a sensuous “U” shape. This table has a direct view of the nearby kitchen, and from here, guests may watch the “theater” and art of the preparation of Belcanto cuisine. On the walls that surround this niche, artist Joana Astolfi intervenes with a collection of handmade ceramic “fossils” that celebrate the incredients and objects used in Belcanto. In the bathrooms we created a darker and more sensorial experience. In this warm, welcoming, private environment, lighting design plays a key role. Directed technical light (ceiling spots directed onto each table, integrated LEDs) and ambient light vivify the scene in different types of illumination including wall mountings, floor and table lamps. All design pieces and furniture (sideboards, tabletops, mirrors, lamps) have been designed in detail, in a coherent way. The Belcanto project even reaches the table itself, where objets d’art were created to celebrate the mise-en-place.

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