LATIN FLAVOURED INTERIOR DESIGN
Abu Dhabi’s new Latin American restaurant, BU! is creatively inconsistent, yet surprisingly aesthetic.
It’s quite common in most Latin American homes to share a vibrant meal with a big family around an even bigger table.
It’s a concept that BU!, Abu Dhabi’s brand new Latin American restaurant, which opened in April, has emulated with its large tables.
Head Chef at BU!, Humberto Canales who hails from Mexico explains it best. “The large tables and seating arrangement make it possible for big groups to gather around the table for meals, just like we do in Latin America, where we have really big families.”
What BU! does successfully is stay far away from anything resembling Tex-Mex cuisine or décor, a concept associated with many Latin American restaurants today. In fact, it’s one of the few places that have decided to forego the perfunctory décor choices used to elicit a ‘Latin American feel.’
Instead BU! relies on truly authentic Latin American food and an urban chic décor with an eclectic mix of lighting and furniture.
WHATS’S IN A NAME?
Located at the World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi, BU! is derived from the Spanish word ‘buenisimo’ meaning ‘exceptionally good’ and is meant to evoke a sense of celebrating the finer things in life, says Yana Kalwani, owner of the restaurant.
The team behind the concept came together based on their mutual love for South American cuisine “but wanted to present it to audiences in an upscale, yet fun and entertaining environment, that no one else in Abu Dhabi seemed to be offering,” Kalwani says referring to the usual string of banal Latin American offerings.
For designer Aidan Keane of Keane Brands who created the concept, it was all about making a statement with BU! in terms of style, size and authenticity. “Design has a job to do, to make a space come alive throughout the day and into the night. BU! does this, beautifully.”
BU! is sectioned into three spaces, each with its own identity. The bar and DJ areas are equipped with intimate booths designed in shell-like shapes, while the restaurant provides a full view of the kitchen, and lastly, the rooftop terrace.
BU! offers no uniformity in terms of design, yet it’s surprisingly aesthetic. It’s in its vibrant yet mismatched format that the restaurant embodies a Latin American theme, even though the team chose not to forcefully inject it.
“It’s bold. The idea is that when you walk into the restaurant it presents an idea of its own and it’s the food that will actually take you to Latin America,” says Restaurant Manager Maria Silva.
To reflect Latin American tradition, the restaurant is designed to incorporate the concept of sharing. Large elongated and square wooden, copper and bronze, repurposed Singer sewing machine tables are elegantly placed around the dining area and the outside terrace of the restaurant.
“We have big families in Latin America and a large table facilitates this. The portions of the menu and the size of the tables automatically bring the sharing and big family gathering concept into the restaurant,” says Silva.
Owner Kalwani explains they’ve kept the essence of Latin America through a bold mix of rich deep textures, colours and shapes, and dispersed it throughout the restaurant. “The furniture is an uncomplicated and bold mixture of vintage, modern and repurposed pieces that is both quirky and luxurious.”
BU! has a selection of different shapes and textures of chairs, utilising a range of coloured leather, cotton, pattern linen and weather proof fabrics for outdoor seating. From yellow leather ottomans to wooden chairs and even striped couches – nothing seems to be consistent. “Why? Well it’s all about mixing and matching different concepts and styles to create a unique environment,” says Kilwani.
Another example of weaving in authentic Latin American designs can be seen in the imported Peruvian crockery, a rustic set of tableware from the Andean region that provides visitors with a truly genuine experience.
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