Cultured Hospitality

Wee Teng Wen, co-founder and managing director of The Lo & Behold Group, on the importance of his team and how design brings concepts to life.

Interview by Charlene Chan & Jolene Hee
Photography by Rebecca Toh

Since The Lo & Behold Group’s (TLBG) first establishment—the standalone rooftop bar Loof—opened in 2005, Teng has launched a series of F&B concepts in quick succession. Each one is housed in a more unexpected location than the last; in its 13-year operation, the Group has given us some of Singapore’s most distinctive experiential spaces. Walk into an old colonial chapel and you can expect to dine on European dishes with a modern touch. Meander through a museum, and refuel afterwards with contemporary French cuisine.  

In recent years, however, TLBG has begun branching out beyond their collection of restaurants and bars. Reading room Looksee Looksee and The Warehouse Hotel, for example, have served to widen their repertoire of hospitality concepts. Each TLBG space you set foot in is a brew of fresh cultural perspectives and unique stories, held together by a daring approach to design.

 

 

TLBG’s establishments are known for being culturally- and design-driven. Was this a direction you knew you wanted to take from the beginning?

I spent some time in the States and when I first returned over a decade ago, I was disappointed at the copy-and-paste concepts from overseas that seemed to dominate the F&B landscape. I set out to create brands that would make Singapore a bit more lovable. Context and culture plays a huge part in informing our concepts, we strive to build brands that add perspectives to the culinary-cultural landscape. Thereafter, design takes centre stage in bringing that story to life.

 Which comes first: the space or the concept?

A lot of our concepts draw deeply from spaces we fell in love with, but sometimes we start off more conceptual, and it’s about finding the perfect setting to bring it to life.

Read more in the Design dialogue Document here