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Nómada Saldanha

Nómada – the popular, Lisbon-based restaurant that serves creative sushi merged with contemporary fusion cuisine approached Spacegram with a desire to expand its restaurant premises, relocating to a new space less than 200 meters away from its original home on Avenida Visconde Valmor. The owners wanted the new space to communicate the aspirations of the original restaurant – offering creative, exploratory food within a setting that awakens customers’ senses and resists cold, intimidating interiors. Spacegram responded with a design that reflects the virtues of travel and is rooted in the notion of creative synthesis. Drawing influence from historic Japanese fabric application, as well as traditional Portuguese materials, Spacegram created a fusion of texture and color that works to both communicate the priorities of Nómada’s gastronomical approach, whilst presenting users with warm and approachable luxury.

Under the new management of Rui Oliveira, and with new chef Francisco Bessone at its helm, Nómada’s core focus on taking inspiration from a confluence of international sources has been strongly augmented. As such, a lifestyle of spirited nomadic exploration has been characterized by the restaurateurs in an innovative and vibrant new menu. Spacegram has, in turn, captured it in the design of Nómada’s new home. The new space exists within a larger new-build and has been designed to accommodate 80 diners, versus a previous capacity of 60. It also works to service a variation in dining styles, including counter food service, group dining, and more intimate seating arrangements.

Spacegram’s overall aim for the new Nómada space was to create an intimate, novel setting that contrasted Japanese minimalism with the use of natural materials, calm colors, and a soothing, low-lit environment. The scheme takes an unexpected approach to representing Japanese culture. By drawing on the influence of traditional Japanese ‘neron’ – linen dividers historically used for protection from wind, rain, and dust– the team has envisioned a labyrinthine, fabric sculpture that suspends from the ceiling. The ‘neron’-inspired hanging linen veers away from traditional functionality and instead is used primarily to invoke an implicit message of place. It rejects a more recent use of color and text within the fabric and returns to the paired back, an untreated appearance that appeared in ‘neron’ as early as the eighth century. The installation works as a functional decoration, optimizing interiors both visually and acoustically. Its pattern is deliberate, satisfying a 2:1 ratio known as ‘tatami’ – a Japanese proportion still used today as units of measurements, mainly for flooring material made from rice straw. This ‘tatami’ scale repeats itself elsewhere within the restaurant, being used as an algorithm for the spatial organization throughout Nómada’s interiors.

Complementing the neutrality of the linen serpentine sculpture, Spacegram chose ‘Lioz’ stone for the restaurant’s tables and countertops – a beige, hard limestone with orange and pink tonal veining, typically used in Portuguese monuments such as the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. A ‘kombu’-inspired green was chosen for the restaurant’s walls, acting as a contrasting and delineating tool against the subtlety of the fabric and stone. The chromatic and flavorsome punch of the Japanese hot mustard known as ‘karashi’ has been represented in the burnt-yellow color of the restaurant’s chairs. Oakwood details proliferate throughout the space, from the benches and elegant bar stools to the storage cupboards, which are also divided into ‘tatami’ patterns. Finally, brass tones have been sporadically incorporated into the interiors, adding texture and lustre to the restaurant’s otherwise soft, muted palette. The brass accents have been left untreated, allowing for the passage of time to manipulate the material’s appearance freely. Mirrors used throughout the interiors to transmit a feeling of vast space have also been aged in brass tones.

Spacegram’s new design for Lisbon’s fashionable Nómada brand puts forward warmth, comfort, and an airy openness as its main drivers. The new space treads elegantly between the lines of formality and informality, honoring tactility and rationality of space as essential definers of a contemporary and welcoming dining experience.



Avenida Visconde Valmor, Lisbon








Ana Ferrão, Bruno Pereira, Gilberto Pedrosa, Sara Lopes


Ricardo Lamy, Rui Oliveira