Bitte Design Studio: Imagine a sanctuary ensconced in the woods. One wouldn’t believe such scenery exists in the midst of urban chaos that is Jakarta. In the city that knows no shortage of dining and lifestyle establishments, BIKO Group, a lifestyle company behind many distinguished F&B destinations in Indonesia, came up with a restaurant and a bar that combine the old with the new, where a relaxing atmosphere is paired with a picturesque vista.
Set within a golf course in the upscale neighborhood of Senayan in Central Jakarta, the two establishments are tucked away in a quiet corner characterized by abundant lush greenery, mature trees and ponds surrounding the site. “We wanted to create a complex that blends in with the landscape. Since the landlord did not allow us to cut any big trees, they became part of the architecture and interiors,” explained Chrisye Octaviani, one of the architects in charge, about the unusual location. From the client’s side, the brief was to create two different concepts for two structures, one is an all-day eatery named Acta Brasserie and in a literal stone's throw away sits an American-inspired bar called Black Pond Tavern.
Behind an unassuming façade made of natural stones and textured walls, Bitte has managed to create a setting that evokes the bucolic beauty of the surrounding environment. Inside Acta Brasserie, a vaulted ceiling provides the much-needed breathing space for city dwellers, terracotta floor tiles lend an outdoor feel, large tea trunks replace the pillars, and a long strip of skylight allows sunshine to flow into the space.
This mise en scène is complete with loosely scattered Scandinavian-style furniture consisting of mid-century sofas and wooden tables. Custom-made light fixtures, a creation of By Bitte, were also outfitted to complement the setting. The result is a leisurely ambiance sprinkled with a touch of sophistication, similar to a charming art collector's living room, that encourages customers to spend their slow mornings with a book in their hands or relaxing soirées with closed ones.
Across the room, a bar, clad in gray marble, is fixed underneath a wooden cellar that can hold up to 1,000 bottles of wine; an iconic fixture that calls patrons to have a light tipple over an easy conversation. When the golden hours arrive, the glass partition on the terrace is opened, thus revealing a semi-outdoor atmosphere throughout the whole space.
Now the terrace is a popular spot among the crowd come sunset; here, the stair seating invites customers to lounge freely in the late afternoon sun, where a gaggle of geese makes their visit from time to time. The sunset at Acta Brasserie's terrace might seem like a perfect way to end the day. However, as night falls, the soft glow coming from Black Pond Tavern's wooden cabin leads patrons in for a change of scene and to grab a pint or two.
Black Pond Tavern is an homage to a drinking den culture in 1950s America. Covered in plywood from head to toe, the dimly-lit rectangular hall is brought to life by eclectic collections of brown three-seater leather sofas, lounge chairs and rustic wooden tables that embody life in the deep South back in its heyday. “Nothing is the same, the space is filled with a mix of items,” shared Agatha Carolina who scoured several antique stores to source the right furniture for the bar.
But the highlight goes to the long bar that occupies the whole side of the room. From behind the counter, bartenders welcome visitors like pals as they settle onto wooden bar stools, a furniture choice with an old-world charm. Even though the den makes one feel at ease in the traces of time gone, that doesn’t mean there’s no playful night at Black Pond. A pool table sits in one corner for anyone who's up for a game and at one end of the room, a stage plays host to live bands playing catchy tunes by ‘50s stars such as Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
All in all, if one is willing to make a comparison between the two establishments, Acta Brasserie is the elegant and laid-back one while its sibling, Black Pond Tavern, is rather spontaneous and rugged. Despite the differences, these two establishments share the same idea of weaving a lush narrative that melds the indoors and outdoors as well as providing comforting hideouts for jaded minds out there; just like the warm homesteads of yesteryear.