Focus: Three unique retailers, cue agenda and design solutions


Three bar and food locations by Martyn ‘Simo’ Simpson, Silverfox Studios and Kiwi & Pom.


FX

Words by Clare Dowdy

Milroy's of Soho by Martyn 'Simo' Simpson
Billed as London's oldest specialist whisky retailer, Milroy's of Soho has been repositioned by its new owner with two bars. In the basement is a 55-seater cocktail bar called The Vault with a private room adjacent, and on the ground floor is a 12-seater whisky bar, Milroy's Bar.

The 51-year-old establishment has been reconfigured by its new owner, 28-year-old Martyn 'Simo' Simpson, who set up Coal Vaults cocktail bar and restaurant in Wardour Street in Soho. The refit was done by his construction company Griffin Construction. 'All the changes were cosmetic, to my own design, and with me on the tools,' he says.

The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi, by Silverfox Studios
The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi, by Silverfox Studios

The Vault is the conversion of a 56 sq m tasting room into a speakeasy-style cocktail bar with original wood panelling and brickwork, a concrete and latex floor and custom-made furniture, including bar stools in timber and metal, retrofitted whisky-barrel tables and benches, and a concrete bar. To get into The Vault customers must locate a 'hidden' door at the back of the shop. 'I just wanted a place to escape the streets of London,' says Simpson.

Meanwhile Milroy's Bar is a 37 sq m space with original brick walls, timber flooring, and a display unit along the length of the bar, which is made of copper.

The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi, by Silverfox Studios
The Starwood Operated Le Méridien Abu Dhabi hotel has nine restaurant and bar offerings, including its signature eatery, The Latest Recipe, which reopened this year. Located in the Emirate's Tourist Club Area, it was created by design agency Silverfox Studios as a contemporary allday dining experience. Key to the environment are 'live action' stations where the latest culinary trends from around the world are showcased. 'The design is informal, colourful, upscale, though importantly casual-fun,' says Silverfox partner and co-design director Patrick Waring.

The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi
The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi

The restaurant includes multiple interactive cooking stations where guests can and are encouraged to engage with chefs in creating their own menu. 'Silverfox has created multiple dining experiences for guests through creative planning, level change, indoor/outdoor areas, a partially separated bar area and even dining both in and behind the kitchen areas,' says partner and co-designer Suan Heng. 'This enables returning guests to enjoy an unexpected experience each time they visit.'

The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi
The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi

So for example the Patisserie has banquettes covered in richly coloured fabric, mosaic flooring and granite counters. A 'green wall' of vegetation is interspersed in the ceiling. Meanwhile guests are shielded from the interactive cooking display areas by subtle low-level glass partitions.

Key to the kitchens' success is the lighting design. In order to draw attention to the exposed show kitchens, lighting consultancy Project Lighting Design in Singapore introduced barrisol-clad artificial skylights. 'We used DMX controlled RGB lighting to create dynamic sky effects that suggest moving clouds, sunsets and such like,' says Peggy Tan of PLD. The lighting consultancy was also briefed by Silverfox to avoid the use of conventional-looking downlights, and to avoid glare.

The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi
The Latest Recipe, Abu Dhabi

'To achieve this we chose to use Precision Lighting spotlights, which were made in beautifully machined brushed aluminium finish, and came with excellent glare control,' explains Tan. They are housed in thick metal channels framing the skylights and are expressed as integral elements of the skylights. 'We like how the lights lend a theatrical touch to key show kitchen and dining spaces,' she adds.

Wyevale Garden Centres' Coffee Ground by Kiwi & Pom
The CaFe and restaurant offers at garden centres can be uninspiring. 'They are very out-dated, tired, unappealing spaces,' says Kam Young, co-founder of design agency Kiwi & Pom. Young and fellow co-founder Emma Young discovered this in their research into the sector for their client Wyevale Garden Centres. 'Garden centres in general are playing catch-up with the high-street offer,' says Emma Young, with customers' expectations largely not being met. Wyevale, which has more than 100 outlets with restaurant offers, wanted to breathe new life into them. London-based Kiwi & Pom created a pop-up cafe style, with a new brand: Coffee Ground. The aim was to create an environment with an artisanal feel referencing many gardeners growing their own produce.

Wyevale Garden Centres' Coffee Ground
Wyevale Garden Centres' Coffee Ground

The design's centrepiece is a free-standing, oversized shed-like structure of galvanised steel and timber cladding. The idea is that the shed draws the eye and operates as a preparation area. On a functional level, it is modular so that it can be constructed to suit different-sized areas.

Tabletops are either zinc or rough-sawn oak and the chairs are Lloyd Loom and rattan. Kiwi & Pom also designed moveable shelving units to carry terracotta pots of herbs. Four Coffee Ground cafes have already opened, and by the end of the year there will be a further 10.





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