Indonesian restaurants are tricky beasts to design for, as the temptation can be to lapse into ethnic motifs and batik tropes. Happily, 1945 – named after the year of Indonesia’s declaration of independence from Holland – steers clear of these traps.
The Singapore-based RT+Q Architects have superimposed the idea of an Indonesian processional over a long room in Jakarta’s Fairmont Hotel – in one fell swoop, telegraphing the nature of the space (a modernist culinary take on classical Indonesian fare) whilst staying firmly contemporary.
Harnessing a palette of wire mesh, corten steel, stone, bronze, and timber, the long hall unfolds in a sequence of moodily lit room-sets comprising foyer, lounge, private dining room, and public room. Screens of varying opacity, inspired by wayang kulit, the traditional Javanese shadow puppet theatre, create abstract silhouettes, or what RT+Q calls ‘a modern day living theatre of shadows’.
Happily, there’s nothing shadowy about the menu, which blends classics with unexpected ingredients and presentation. The classic pesmol is re-imagined as a lobster Thermidor, for instance, while wagyu shows up in a tongue-singeing rendang and fried rice, and chicken oysters are speared into fragrantly charred satay. Equally engaging is the rijstafel, that much loved Dutch-Indonesian sampler of curries, braised vegetables, and spicy salads.