In Conversation: Ebb & Flow Group’s Creative Director Norman Hartono On Lights That Add Soul To Dining Spaces

Lights can affect the atmosphere of any given space. While it may not be the first condition we think of when shopping for the best luminaires, it is crucial that we pick one that amplifies the vibe we strive for.

From a welcoming home, a creative office space to a zen café, lights make a big difference. We spoke to Norman Hartono, creative director of the Ebb & Flow Group behind popular restaurants such as The Dragon Chamber and Café Natsu on how Sol Luminaire light fixtures play a part in setting the right mood for customers.

The idea behind"Given its low profile and seamless design, the light fixtures can blend into the spaces they are deployed in and even become a design feature on their own. " the D**** Soup at The Dragon Chamber. "Given its low profile and seamless design, the light fixtures can blend into the spaces they are deployed in and even become a design feature on their own. "

The idea behind the crocodile parts being included as dishes at The Dragon Chamber came from the stereotype of Chinese food being weird. Originally starting off as traditional dishes, the crocodile parts used to be found in older restaurants with even older menus. 

As time went on, nobody wanted to order these dishes as they were seen as out of date and too “old school”. However, with the emergence of Dragon Chamber’s concept, we reframed the dish in a more adventurous setting, giving our customers an element of danger and excitement when trying out these dishes. 

So, what started off as an experiment and a joke kind of became a permanent fixture in our menu. 

Both The Dragon Chamber and Café Natsu have very different styles. 

Each of these brands as well as every other brand under Ebb & Flow has its own unique identity. I aim to provide visitors a cohesive experience according to each brand’s story, food, concept as well as aspirations. The Dragon Chamber being a secret society themed speakeasy restaurant will have its own set of appropriate decorations rooted in the dichotomy of tradition and rebellion. 

For Café Natsu, it melds elements of minimalist Japanese and Nordic design being a Japanese European Brunch concept. But in order for it to have its own unique flair, we included interlocking shapes and curves that cut into the structures of the interior, completed with a “crust” and “inner layer” to make the place feel more organically connected. 

The Dragon Chamber features Isa V3 and Café Natsu features Voli Gypsum Long & Isa V3

How have our lights helped to complete the dining experience?

Sol Luminaire lights have contributed to not just to the ambient mood of the space, but also to the physical design itself. Given its low profile and seamless design, the light fixtures can blend into the spaces they are deployed in and even become a design feature on their own. 


What are some lig"Lighting gives balance and spirit to a space."hting aspects that should not be overlooked? "Lighting gives balance and spirit to a space."

I would say lighting should contribute to the concept and not outshine or dulls it down. Lighting gives balance and spirit to a space. It shouldn’t be too glaring or dim, but more so lighting the necessary areas just enough. I believe that it is not just a “finishing touch” but the soul of a space itself. No matter how well designed a room is, it truly bears its soul when you flick on that light switch. 

How has the F&B industry evolved?

Although there have been advances in technology and building materials when it comes to creating a space, the design process hasn’t changed much and the fundamentals are largely still the same.

What has changed is the desire for novel concepts and Singaporeans being more well-travelled than ever before. I believe this makes the job more exciting – to be able to keep pushing the envelope of design in a global context where we no longer just mimic what the rest of the world is doing but create our own unique concepts too. I foresee more dining and nightlife concepts to merge as one – spaces where you can dine and hang out with friends afterwards for a drink instead of going to two separate places. 

Where do you get inspiration from?

I get inspiration from movies, comic books, history, the works of other interior designers and architects, nature, pretty much anything that resonates with the concept that I’m working on.