Rudyard Kiping wrote: East is East,and West is West, and never the twain shall meet – not so for interior design studio, 12 Empire, who created a harmonious eco-system for a western food café and Japanese restaurant housed in adjoining shophouses. Rather than a seamless amalgamation, the designers chose to celebrate differences layered with a narration to bridge the two. The western café is presented like a crisp spring day in a park in bloom, a welcoming space bathed in natural light with alluring pops of yellow and pink in the form of armchairs and turquoise walls. Three full height artificial trees preside over this tableau utilising the double volume ceiling while creating a sense of curiosity for passers-by and leading customers through a “garden path” to the Japanese restaurant. Inspired by rustic Japanese fishing villages, the moodily lit restaurant has a more mysterious ambience than its neighbour. The central cooking station cum yakitori counter dressed with deep green walls is at the heart of the space and festooned by distressed wooden buckets and scarlet lanterns. To reinforce the overreaching idea of a journey, pockets of private dining areas demarcated by timbre cladding populate the split level floor. Thoughtful details are incorporated in both areas, designed to surprise and delight guests such as whimsical wooden birds nesting in the tree branches and figurines of old men casting their fishing lines above the cooking counter. These charming gestures complete this lively space while creating a unique universe– Kipling would have been disproved.