Mizzi Studio approached this project with a desire to inject heritage-driven design solutions into its DNA. The team studied vernacular precedents with a focus on colour, materials and traditional functionality. The design concept for Barbajean took cues from the typical Maltese faċċata or facade – its coloured timber doors; glass antiporta; informal parapet steps; and the mid-century terrazzo architrave tradition were all used as formal inspiration. With its street-corner site, the team identified an opportunity to create a classical, symmetrical statement.
A triptych of openings each punctuate an elegant grey-pink rendered façade, stylishly bordered by pale pink terrazzo architraves and surrounding emerald green timber door and window frames.
Barbajean has been shaped from the inside-out as a customised design statement. From light fixtures to signage to furniture, Mizzi Studio has carefully crafted a contemporary bistro vocabulary that is unique to the restaurant’s intended ambiance. The restaurant’s bar space recalls the elegance of European Art-Deco bistros. Three slender, tall repeating arches are lit with striking neon accents and calligraphy and rendered in a speckled, pale pink terrazzo. The arches complement the emerald green of the timber fluted bar body and work in parallel with its custom-made terrazzo countertop. Bespoke brass tubular barstools line up along the length of the bar, with velvet upholstery that complements the green timber fluting.
A long communal seating bench lines the back of the restaurant’s entrance façade, sitting beneath its large window. The long bench is upholstered in a robust green that recalls the Parisian tubing of architect Hector Guimard’s Art Nouveau Metro entrances. The bench is partnered with a series of custom designed and built tables, each having a pink terrazzo top flecked with shards of Guatemala Verde.
Aside from the restaurant’s furniture, the team designed a series of bespoke light fixtures that illuminate, partition and opulently decorate the restaurant’s entire interior space. Along the restaurant’s seating wall, double-bowed brass tubes form the bodies of another series of statement lamps, each implicitly dividing the common seating bench, creating rhythmic visual partitions via their arched rods and spherical lampshades. Mizzi Studio also approached illustrator and designer Ed Dingli to create original artwork that would hang as an exclusive series within the restaurant's interiors capturing the cultural spirit of ħad-Dingli's typical village life, aligning with Mizzi Studio's central design drive to return to heritage as primary inspiration.
“This project gave us an opportunity to create a new and distinctive design language. We wanted to create something that wholly represented this particular place and its identity – its site, its management, and its overall spirit. We are so excited Barbajean’s doors are now open to the public and is fast becoming one of Ħad-Dingli’s regular go-to eating destinations”.
Design, Visualisation, Interior
Ħad-Dingli represents the modest and slow-paced way of life that is so typical of the Mediterranean and Malta specifically – the village’s extensive rural buffer and spectacular views also reminds us our the islands’ magnificent natural landscape. Mizzi Studio is deeply influenced by nature and how architecture can live in harmony with natural surroundings. We envisioned Barbajean as a pitstop or end destination that might weave into long walks within the region’s beautiful landscape.