Il Lago dei Cigni:
The Gallery HBA

Il Lago St Petersburg (35)
The Gallery HBA has designed the sophisticated Il Lago dei Cigni (Swan Lake) for the owners of Buddha Bar, St Petersburg. This contemporary Italian fine dining restaurant incorporates design details that weave Russian folklore and the tale of the restaurant’s namesake, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, with the idyllic nature of Krestovsky Island, where the favourites of Russia’s Tsars once resided, and is a modern gourmet destination.

Il Lago St Petersburg (111)

Situated in the woodlands alongside a small pond, the restaurant has been newly built next to the swan house, where the swans of the island’s lakes live and breed. Panoramic floor to ceiling windows encircle the main dining area, framing the lakeside backdrop.

Il Lago St Petersburg  (40)

A shimmering allusion to Russian fairytales and the folklore around maypole dancing is formed by an exquisite central column and chandelier. The pillar is clad in clefts of natural selenite rock crystal ‘which disappear into the circular backlit soffit at the ceiling, whilst cascading from the round canopy are “ribbons” hewn from shimmering crystals interspersed with geometric copper wire talismans’.

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The Gallery has taken inspiration from Tsar Peter the Great’s vision for the city of St Petersburg, which he transformed into the ‘Venice of the North’, investing in palaces, engineering and shipbuilding to create a glittering attraction for European architects, scientists and thinkers.

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‘This spirit of intellectual pursuit has been interpreted in a contemporary manner with numerous details to discover. Timber cabinets display intriguing curiosities as if scientific specimens meant for inspection: bespoke art fixtures have been crafted from magnifying glasses placed in front of wine bottle labels; glass domes exhibit mounted beetles or butterflies; small pen and ink studies of swans have been framed; and bundles of timeworn French manuscripts have been bound together with string into parcels. Some of the cabinets feature antiqued bronzed glass or backlit selenite back panels, adding to the sparkle in the room.’

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Natural materials have been used throughout the restaurant to enhance the sense of luxury. Including wide plank teak floors, selenite cladding on the façades of the bar and cabinetry, and Italian-made chairs upholstered in rich cognac leather and truffle toned herringbone wool, all bring a connection to the natural world.

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Modern renditions of traditional Russian fabric motifs have been incorporated into the designs, and scrolled floral patterns in the scatter cushions and embossed metal reliefs recall time-honoured Slavic textile designs.

Il Lago St Petersburg  (14)

Lighting crafted from hand-blown Czech glass adorns the bar area, creating a warm glow, and the restaurant’s private dining area glows from the glazed antiqued mirror covering the back wall and a Czech glass chandelier. The restaurant’s rarest vintages and varietals are exhibited in bespoke handcrafted wine cabinets.

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Diners can also eat al fresco: lakeside, downstairs in the restaurant; and upstairs on the terrace and rooftop bar, which is protected by a glass canopy. ‘A trellis woven with greenery breaks up the open space of the upper level, forming nooks with a degree of intimacy for dining or lounging on sofas kitted out with warm throws. The finishes maintain the natural feel of those indoors, with rustic hand-beaten metals, sun-washed timbers, planters of lush foliage and floor lanterns which cast dramatic shadows.’

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