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Passionate for all things Sabahan, chef and owner Raphael Lee who is partly Kadazan in descent, named his fine dining restaurant OITOM—The local Kadazan word for black. Celebrating indigenous Bornean flavours and local produce, OITOM is like a canvas, highlighting the art of fine dining in every plate. Like his second home, where Raphael spends most of his time perfecting his craft. We designed the layout of Oitom Restaurant according to Rungus Long House concept. Rungus longhouse is divided into two distinct areas, the apad or common gallery (left) and Ongkob or compartment area (right). Ruai or veranda of longhouse serves as the partition of both areas where we divide the communal area Lansang and cooking and cleaning area Ropukan and Salow. Traditional longhouse is built to lift off the ground by stilts made of hard wood. The vertical member implemented in the space signifies this unique feature. The flooring pattern mimics the split bamboo or nibung, a distinct pattern in Rungus culture. The handmade beadwork of Rungus is so iconic and we applied it on the feature wall of Oitom using wooden beads and detailed design. We interpreted the usage of dry palm leaves of sago or nipah, traditionally used in longhouse roofs in the hanging light feature in OITOM. Inspired by Raphael’s inventive spirit, we created a fresh design approach—Bornean-Nordic, which uses minimalistic style with a blend of bornean textures and soft hues to make the space feel warm and inviting.

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