London restaurant uses 'storytelling design' to celebrate Basque culture and cuisine

by Kim Megson | 24 Aug 2016

Exhibition designers Casson Mann have designed a colourful story-filled restaurant for five-star London hotel One Aldwych.

The restaurant, called Eneko, opens on 1 September in the hotel’s former basement.

Museum interior specialists Casson Mann were selected to work on the project, their first restaurant design, because of their storytelling expertise. The brief called for the design to tconvey the story of its Michelin starred chef, Eneko Atxa, and his Basque heritage.

“All our museum experience is about transforming stories into engaging spatial experiences,” said studio founder and director Roger Mann. “This has been a similar challenge, albeit with a shift from a direct to a subtle emphasis in the way we link narrative to materials and invite emotional and functional connections.”

Eneko’s “passion for ingredients, flavours and heritage” is communicated through use of colour, space, material and texture.

The space has been filled with natural light through the addition of windows, the demolition of an entire floor and the creation of a floating white ceramic mezzanine. The building’s original steel frame columns, newly exposed, have been incorporated into the design scheme. Together with banquette seating framed by raw plate steel and a series of floating copper-clad staircases, the result is a subtle reference to Bilbao's industrial heritage.

Other Basque allusions are made from the use of materials, including wood and stone, sourced from craftsmen in the region. References to food and flavours are more subtle, with the banquette upholstery made from leather in different shades of red to reference the changing colour of red chilli peppers that are hanged in the kitchens of Bilbao.

"Among the proposals I reviewed, I felt Casson Mann’s design dealt with the challenges of the existing space the best," said hotel general manager Kostas Sfaltos. "I saw that they had the passion to do justice to the space, something traditional restaurant designers didn’t seem to get.

"They approached the project with an appetite and positive energy to create something truly exciting. They respected the history of the 1907 building by bringing back the original shape of the space while at the same time creating something bold and fresh."

Casson Mann have previously referenced fine dining with their design for cultural wine centre La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux.

Their next big project will be the exhibition galleries for Snøhetta’s forthcoming Lascaux IV Caves Museum in France, which includes the recreation of the caves and their 10,000-year-old paintings.

One Aldwych  Eneko at One Aldwych  Eneko Atxa  Casson Mann  basque  cuisine  restaurant design  narratives 
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Exhibition designers Casson Mann have designed a colourful story-filled restaurant for five-star London hotel One Aldwych. The restaurant, called Eneko, opens on 1 September in the hotel’s former basement. Museum interior specialists Casson Mann were selected to work on the project, their first restaurant design, because of their storytelling expertise. The brief called for the design to tconvey the story of its Michelin starred chef, Eneko Atxa, and his Basque
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The brief called for the design to convey the story of Michelin starred chef, Eneko Atxa, and his Basque heritage / Eneko at One Aldwych
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