When the three owners of Tom, Dick and Harry (TDH) started their first pub-cum-diner in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur six years ago, they envisioned a homely hangout for residents in the neighborhood to unwind and relax. They have incorporated the concept into three more TDH outlets. TIMBER MALAYSIA finds out the story behind the interior design concept of TDH and how the owners –have manifest their personal styles through the use of timber to gain brand recognition.
We focused on TDH’s latest outlet located in a business park called Oasis Square, in Ara Damansara, Selangor, with XXXXX sq ft of space. The bigger area allowed the owners more creativity to create a warm and cosy ambience, with a very rustic feel that sets it apart from regular watering holes. And having the outlet face a lovely feature fountain (courtesy of the developer of the business park) certainly raises TDH’s welcoming quotient by a few notches.
One of the features that first strikes a patron is the chunky custom-made furniture. Rustic-looking tables, benches and bar stools – all made of reclaimed timber or wooden wine barrels – reminds one of a “wild, wild West” saloon that could have been appropriated straight from the high street set of “Zorro”, and guests might just half-expect to see a masked hero sword-crossing with a bandana-clad baddie!
The restaurant is thoughtfully carved out into a few distinct areas, to cater to its clientele’s varying moods. The indoor dining shares its space with a stage for live bands, perfect for a party-like atmosphere. An extensive outdoor alfresco dining area provides patrons with a choice to be closer to the music during live band shows, or nearer the feature fountain for some soothing splashing sounds, or away from the madding crowd for serious business discussions or a private tête-à-tête. The rectangular bar is centrally located to effectively serve all areas.
In terms of design, most of the furniture and interior fit-outs are kept within simple linearity. It is the use of timber as the key player that has helped achieve a wonderful infusion of rusticity, warmth and homeliness in the overall ambience.“We wanted to create a space that is welcoming and friendly,” said Ernest Ong, one of the founders of TDH. “When you come to TDH, it’s like going to a friend’s house for a party and you immediately relax. The use of wood at brings out the right amount of warmth and coziness we were looking for, and this does wonders to help our patrons chill out.”
Reclaimed Chengal salvaged from demolished buildings was used for making benches and tables, especially those that are meant to be exposed to the elements.. Former railway sleepers are given a fresh lease of life as seats or tables.
“Every piece of timber item used tells a story. We are thinking of placing little explanatory plaques on these table tops so our patrons know there’s a history behind certain pieces of furniture. Apart from providing a good conversation topic, it also tells them that we believe in recycling,” explained Ernest.
At a little hidden corner are a few vintage chairs and coffee tables repurposed for a new dining experience. Diners may choose to sit at this area, as it is a bit secluded from the main dining areas, providing a little quiet and privacy.
The outdoor dining area nearest to the indoor stage is a patio with raised flooring and balusters made of recycled Chengal. Here, washroom doors (scrubbed clean and disinfected, we were told) recovered from an old church in Penang have been repurposed into table tops, complete with their original pull handles and the ‘vacant-occupied’ indicator bolt lock! These are paired with vintage steel (or aluminum??) chairs salvaged from a torn down cinema. . Foldable steel (or aluminum-framed??) doors can separate the patio from the interior dining space, if need be.
The indoor dining space sports a more eclectic-funky feel with its black and white checkered floor tiles coupled with fancy panels and random-sized mirrors on the wall. Square wooden tables custom-made from yet more recycled timber are paired with bar stools or old cinema chairs. Although less rustic, it is nonetheless equally welcoming, especially with the stage so close by.
The stage itself was designed with proper acoustics for superior sound performance. Timber again, lends itself well to this function. Apart from its wooden flooring, a collection of colourful old wooden windows are nailed into a collage to create an eccentric backdrop that also functions as a vibration-dampener. Timber’s natural ability to damp vibrations is due to its minute interlocking pores in its cellular network, which converts sound energy into heat energy by frictional resistance within the pores and by vibration of the fibres. Damping reduces the magnitude of resonant vibrations, improving the performance of wood panelling as a reflective surface.
One of the main features of TDHis the well-designed bar that is centrally and strategically located for all dining areas.. Heavyset wooden bar stools are placed all around the rectangular bar. Chengal strips are used for the bar counter-top, which is stylishly lit bylarge pendant lamps. Near the bar, a wooden wine barrel has been used as the base of a table, enhancing the rusticity of the design language.
It is said that TDH reflects three different personalities: Tom, Dick and Harry, with Tom being the complete gentleman, Dick the cunning one and Harry is the laidback, grubby person. TDH’s timber-based décor is like a tribute to the establishment’s multi-faceted personality, where gentlemen, wheeler dealers or easy-goers will equally feel at home.