The architecture and interiors of a restaurant are becoming as fundamental an ingredient as the food and service you receive within. As an environment for social entertaining there is an increasing movement to strive for the more daring, experimental, inspirational, harmonious or nurturing – creativity in design is back in fashion – and dragging us all back out of the mid-market globalised identikit chains.
Good design is about entertainment, not just functionality with the aesthetics as the visual entertainment. We want from our restaurants imagination, individuality and rarity – a sensory as well as a taste journey.
Design entrepreneurs are joining the celebrity superstar ranks – think influences from the 90’s such as Anouska Hempel (Hempel), Sir Terence Conran (Quaglino’s), Kit Kemp (Firmdale Hotels) and operator/ designer collaborations are rife – think Missoni (Hotel Missoni – Edinburgh) and Diane von Furstenburg (Claridges).
Top Ten Designers shaping the industry today:
Who: Irish-born architect David Collins is based in Fulham and synonymous with London establishments of serious heritage
Style: Timeless ultra chic classics in the main. Refined, luxurious, classic interiors, often with a heritage feel. Embossed leather upholstery, elegant dining sofas, parquet or inlaid timber flooring, marble, fine metalwork with handcrafted artisan details.
Projects: Nobu Berkeley Square, The Berkeley’s Blue Bar, The Connaught Bar, J Sheekey, Bob Bob Ricard, Artesian as well as large scale luxury hotels in the USA. Lesser known in fact but not by scale would be Café Rouges, Dome cafes and several Chez Gerards.
Who: Headed by Mary Fox Linton a world renowned interior designer with over 30 years’ experience, she has remained at the forefront of design and innovation, and is renowned for her modern use of materials and stylish sense of comfort.
Style: “Groovy grand” signature characteristics of superb quality that transcends fashion and challenges concepts of both contemporary and traditional.
Who: Ilse Crawford, the founding editor of Elle Decoration in 1989 received high acclaim for her rustic modern interiors at Babington House creating a new breed of country house.
Style: Natural materials, sensual textures and forms. Modern design with Scandinavian influences and a strong sense of comfort and familiarity.
Projects: Babington House, Soho House New York, Cowshed, Soho Beach House Miami, Kettners, The Electric Cinema through to social housing projects.
Who: Paris born designer Philippe Starck is a prolific product designer but probably best known for his interior designers of ‘New Style’ and his recreation of modern boutique style movement through his partnership with Ian Schrager of Schrager Hotels. Possibly the most celebrated designer in the world.
Style: Surrealist brand of modernism which is instantly recognisable yet always has an element of surprise. For public spaces he uses strong and extrovert furnishings to make memorable decorative impressions. Enjoys mixing styles.
Projects: The Sanderson London, St Martins Lane London, Mondrian Hotel LA, Delano Hotel Miami; Peninsula Hotel Restaurant in Hong Kong; Le Meurice Paris; Café Costes Paris; Starwood’s W Hotels;
Who: Keith Hobbs is the self-taught interior architect behind some of the capital’s most famous restaurants. The Kent born designer was design consultant to Sir Terence Conran, he worked on the likes of Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino’s before starting his own agency, United Designers in 1995.
Style: Less is more approach. Understated and streamlined, drawing on rich natural materials such as timbers, marble and leather upholstery with considered use of recessed integrated lighting.
Who: Swedish designer Martin Brudnizki’s formed his studio in 2000 and hasn’t looked back since his glamorous reinvention of Mayfair dining institution Scott’s in 2006.
Style: ‘Minimalism deluxe’ – rich detailing used in an understated way, with mirrored panelling and marble and limestone flooring. Minimal stands for ‘precision in detail, space and design concept’ and deluxe covers ‘quality of materials and furnishings.’ Uses many different materials e.g. combining timber and glass with metal detailing or high gloss lacquer with leather and stud detailing.
Projects: Le Caprice New York; Cecconi’s LA; The Club at the Ivy; Corrigan’s Mayfair; J Sheekey Oyster Bar; Jamie’s Italian; as well as high street chains such as Strada.
Who: Former Habitat head Tom Dixon, heads up his design and manufacturing company established in 2002 and has firmly established himself as a fast growing icon.
Style: Industrial luxe, clean modern aesthetic, mid century modern influences, sculptural forms, innovative lighting (own), progressive use of metals and materials.
Projects: Shoredith House; Gordon Ramsay’s F Word television set; Suka @ Sanderson Hotel; Inn The Park; Forneria Sau Paulo; Paramount Bar @ Centre Point
Shaun Clarkson has been closely involved in the UK restaurant, bar and nightclub industry for over 15 years and has forged an exciting career since leaving college with a degree in fine art. With a penchant for the avant-garde and the extravagant he first cut his design teeth on Oliver Peyton’s legendary Raw Club in the 1990s where he was resident designer for five years.
Style: Maximalist – bright colours and patterns, silk shaped (often oversized) lamps and chandeliers, vintage 1970’s wallpapers, sumptuous velvet and silk drapery.
Projects: Atlantic Bar and Grill; Wallace Restaurant at the Wallace Collection; Cheyne Walk Brasserie; Carrington House; Odette’s
Who: Hove based design studio stabling 25 talented people with a diverse cultural and skill base with a growing success record in restaurant and hotel interiors as well as corporate and residential projects.
Style: End-user focused. Through working with materials, forms, style and identity in innovative yet practical ways, they create functional environments and products.
Who: Husband and wife team Tim Mutton and Jo Sampson met while working at United Designers and set up their Clerkenwell agency in 2002 handling high end restaurants and club projects in the capital.
Style: Strong on glamour. Rich use of materials such as dark-stained timber panelling and deep red, purple and gold leather upholstery. Neat, streamlined look with integrated lighting, strong use of pattern and decadent lighting solutions.
Projects: Jamie’s Italian Westfield; Fifteen; St Germaine London; Gordon Ramsay’s The Narrow; Hilton Park Lane