“Best lighting i’ve ever seen” – Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck

Melbourne received its first taste of THE FAT DUCK in February this year as renowned British chef, HESTON BLUMENTHAL, and his much-celebrated restaurant migrated to a temporary home on the third floor of the Crown complex. Designed by BATES SMART (with lighting designed by ELECTROLIGHT and supplied by Light Project), The Fat Duck features a sophisticated interior made all the more exciting by its dramatic lighting design.

The Fat Duck and its entire staff relocated to Melbourne for 6 months while its West Berkshire home is being renovated. Although its address at Crown is temporary, the design suggests a restaurant that is firmly at home in its new location.

The design echoes the effect of chiaroscuro, where the strong contrast between light and dark creates a sense of drama. Guests enter down a long, dark hall to the 50-seat restaurant, where sumptuous upholsteries, dark lacquered paneling and rich carpets provide a dramatic backdrop to the spot-lit white clothed tables. Just like Blumenthal’s menu, the design includes whimsical elements and quirky features, such as terrarium jars on bench ledges, a large ‘interactive jigsaw’ and a Fat Duck fob watch that counts down to the final service before the Fat Duck flies home.

Grant Filipoff, senior interior designer with Bates Smart, says the lighting design, executed by Electrolight, was crucial to creating a sense of drama within the restaurant. “It was important the lighting accentuated the design concept of chiaroscuro. Pin spot lighting was used to highlight the linen tabletops with the main focus being the food. The remainder of the space was softly lit, highlighting the rich palette and creating a sense of theatre.”

Blumenthal is impressed with the results, telling Herald Sun that it has both a grand and relaxed feel. “And the lighting at night, it’s the best lighting I’ve ever seen in a restaurant,” he said.

With a matter of months before the restaurant makes its return home, guests will continue to enjoy the food that Blumenthal describes as a ‘journey of history, nostalgia, memory and emotion’ in an environment fitting of the legendary Fat Duck.

Photography: Karon Photography