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Mellow Tone

Porto, Portugal

Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes has opened Cozinha Das Flores and Flôr, a restaurant and bar in historic Porto, with intimate interiors by Space Copenhagen

Space Copenhagen’s signature warm Scandinavian minimalism meets the vibrancy of Porto at Nuno Mendes’ latest opening. Occupying five interconnected 17th-century buildings on a small public square, Largo de São Domingos, the space features a 50-cover dining room plus an intimate bar that also serves small plates. Mendes says he wants the venue to be “a welcoming, convivial and bohemian experience suitable for anytime of the day or occasion,” with the menu tapping in to northern Portugal’s cuisine (with a certain amount of reinvention – think the famous pastel de nata tart reborn as a savoury morsel, with turnip custard and topped with caviar).

Space Copenhagen’s Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou have carefully brought in elements of traditional Portuguese design, with a contemporary flavour. In the dining room, under a long banquette, a tiled mural in olive green and dusky pink has been designed by architect Alvaro Siza and hand painted by ceramic tile company, Viuva Lamego, whose legacy stretches back to the mid-19th-century. Siza, a Porto native, was asked to draw on his real-life experiences of the city, and came up with a series of sketches of street musicians, which are arranged in a jauntily irregular way over the wall, lending an animated quality to the otherwise calm dining room.

As well as the local tiles, stone, timber and metal have also been sourced from Portugal, with earthy terracotta-coloured walls to give a cocooning warmth. Space Copenhagen couldn’t complete a project without some Scandinavian classics, too: the chairs are Hans Wegner’s CH26 models from Carl Hansen & Søn. The designers describe the aesthetic as “soft and slightly nostalgic yet timeless.”

An open kitchen is arranged around a fire that allows guests to see the food being cooked, while a floor-to-ceiling glass-fronted wine cabinet, framed in oak and blackened steel, continues the theme of openness and theatricality; sitting in front of it is a curving, monolithic marble sommelier station.

In the cosy flagstone-floored Flôr bar, there are bar stools are by Space Copenhagen for Mater, paired with Loafer stools by &Tradition. The space is dominated by a bespoke horseshoe-shaped marble-topped bar, backed with sunrise-like glass installation by Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis, which softly diffuses warm light into the room, providing a sedative-like backdrop for cocktails.

The bathrooms conform to the hospitality trend for immersive experiences: the low-lit spaces are accessed via jib doors, where there is more bespoke tilework (this time by Portuguese artist Bela Silva) and a custom-made sound installation by Danish sound engineer Ian Johansson of Sontastic.

The Scandinavian connection in this project is not accidental: Cozinha Das Flores and Flôr are part of a new hotel, The Largo, which will be opened in summer 2023 by Copenhagen-based hospitality group Annassurra.