Pizza Express commissioned us to design a series of interior schemes for their steadily growing an empire of restaurants mostly based in unique new or old listed buildings. As well as being, to an extent, ‘branded’, a notable design feature of their restaurants is the embracing of the building’s history.
Unusually, Piccadilly Gardens is a new build, but we wanted some reference to the site’s previous incarnations, so we researched the history of the facing gardens and took inspiration from it.
We worked with local radio to get listeners sending in their photos of the original Piccadilly Gardens. A selection of images makes up a massive feature photo wall celebrating the past and giving the building context.
We wanted to give the restaurant texture, so we left a rough finish to the building columns and ceiling, to take the ‘new build’ sheen down a little, and slate / ceramic floor tiles. Behind the main bar, frosted glass mirrors and clear glass shelving add more texture and depth.
Along the back wall of the open kitchen, reconstituted black granite gives a dramatic backdrop to the chefs’ work, and small fragments in the granite add a little sparkle to proceedings.
We used a mix of materials to improve the natural acoustics of this double height space. Adding suspended walnut acoustic rafts to the ceiling and along one 4m high wall, creating a slatted timber panel that at the foot of the wall, flows seamlessly into a smooth timber bench.
For a daydreamy touch, Frank Gehry’s lightshades hang like cloud forms over the restaurant for another layer of texture.
Opening onto Piccadilly Gardens, we’ve made full use of the double height space that in summer, can open right out onto the al fresco dining area.