"They asked me to give them Spain — so everything I've included in the design has accents of what we saw."
With Pacharan's interior, Swaffield fuses Spain's modern design with its traditional architecture. The vaulted Moorish arches and gleaming wooden beams complement glistening copper and curvilinear lines. The result is an atmosphere at once coolly contemporary and comfortably classic.
"All the material was chosen because it will antiquate well. It will acquire an aged effect, even copper when it's buffed up is a comfortable, classic accent," Swaffield says. "There is a natural rhythm to Spain and the curves work well. There are few straight lines [in Pacharan], so wherever you are, you've got something to look at. You never feel alone. You've got the kitchen to look at and there's always movement there. It's busy — you can never get away from that."
Pacharan, a berry-flavored, lightly alcoholic after-dinner drink, inspired not only the restaurant's name, but a whimsical design touch as well.
"Pacharan is made in these boutique distilleries and each has its own unique bottle. Some of the bottles are as ornate as absinthe and some look like aftershave," Swaffield says. "If you look at the big wall piece, it's all pacharan bottles interlocked in different ways. It plays on the period when Spanish art was the most successful in the 1930s. It's a Picasso-era sort of thing and when Spanish artists were working in Dadaism."
Aesthetics aside, Pacharan was also designed to facilitate interaction.
"[Pacharan's manager] Andres said he wanted to talk to people and have personal contact. The interior should be perceived in terms of people and good food and atmosphere. There's nothing Zen about this; we put this together so people can introduce themselves to other people. It's as much a people experience as a Spanish experience. It's touchy and tactile. It works perfectly well — there's more life in there than I imagined."
It's been working so well that Swaffield is now designing a four-storey Pacharan restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. The new place, which will open in August, has Alderson and his team busy. But, for now, he's content to reflect on what Swaffield has already achieved in Phnom Penh.
"I'm ecstatic," Alderson said. "Jerry's created a beautiful place."