They say opposites attract and when it comes to the Corner House Bali, we can all be thankful. We sat down with the sartorially-skilled husband and wife team breathing new life into the iconic location after its previous incarnation burnt to the ground at the beginning of 2013.
French fashion designer Magali Pascal and Australian photographer Matt Neville, each had a clear vision. It turned out not to be quite the same but their differences created just the right amount of creative friction needed to produce something really special in this gleaming all-day dining restaurant.
“Matt’s taste is a lot more masculine than mine,” says Magali. “His shop (the fashion/homewares store From just a little further down the street on Jl. Laksmana) is all about a very pared-back aesthetic. I guess you could say he’s a minimalist. I mean, I love lace. He loves that industrial look. But I knew I really wanted the Corner House to be warm, somewhere that felt cosy and welcoming, so we had to find a balance between the two.”
“You know, we agree on general ideas and big picture plans. We’ve always both been on the same page with the type of place we wanted to create, the end result. We just differ on the details. Like how big the bar should be. Or how a picture should be hung,” says Matt with a smile.
“Or if any pictures should be hung at all,” Magali jokes.
Light-hearted digs at each other aside, they really are quite the creative double act and the end result is absolutely polished with an attention to detail that is nothing less than lovely.
With antique Goose Desk Lamps that have been given a new lease of life as wall lights upstairs (lovingly and patiently hunted down, one by one, from Ebay sellers all over the world), cushions made from original war-time hessian bags sourced in Antwerp, linen covered sofas and traditional hand cast Parisian-style tables, the interior certainly isn’t your usual rag-tag affair.
“My sister, Emma, is an architect, so we can’t take all the credit. Having Emma help out was instrumental in getting it right,” says Matt.
“Everyone really loved the old Corner Store, so we knew we had to do something that had spirit and heart. We were creating something new, but it had to feel like it had history, its own stories,” adds Magali.
And stories it has. Matt and Magali confess that at their opening night party they decided to play a little joke on their good friend, Sean Cosgrove, who owned the Corner Store, prior to its untimely demise in a fire (and who now heads up the hugely popular beachside hotspot Old Man’s in Canggu).
Matt can’t stop laughing as he recounts the gag. “Everyone knows that the Corner Store burnt down. So on our opening night we gave him a present, you know, to thank him for the history of the place. It was all wrapped up beautifully and it looked like a bottle of wine. It was a fire extinguisher!”
Matt and Magali clearly have a soft spot for the location: it was actually where they first met, years earlier. Who could have guessed that ‘the Corner’, as it is affectionately called by locals, would be the touchstone of their life to come, and that they would fall in love, marry and one day find themselves doing menu tastings to make sure that the Corner House Burger was just right?
Couple this with the cracking espressos that the baristas are churning out (courtesy of the underground caffeine den Revolver and their commitment to the best beans in Bali), Pukka teas landed from London and a well-crafted menu that effortlessly blends Antipodean tastes with a European sensibility, and what you have is the real deal.
So, would they do it all over again?
They look at each other and the two of them burst out laughing. “Absolutely not!” they both shout in unison.
Corner House Bali, Jalan Laksmana 10A, Seminyak, Bali. P. 0361 730 276. Opening hours: 7am-midnight daily (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner), FREE valet.