Box 1 Interview / Estudio Nomada & Ampersand Hotel

Estudio Nomada

Enrique de Santiago of Estudio Nomada 

Estudio Nomada are the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards winning designers behind A Cantina, the canteen with branch like pillars which has become an iconic image of the awards. As one of our four previous ‘best restaurant or bar’ winners, Estudio Nomada are designing Box 1 of the Box Project for this year’s awards ceremony at the Farmiloe Building. 

Other than your own, which is your favourite restaurant or bar, and why?

Our all time favourite restaurant has always been The Boa Nova Tea House in Matosinhos, Porto, designed by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza. It perfectly combines a completely integrated architecture with an exquisite and charming interior design; a true atemporal icon.

What do you find most inspiring about the box project and why?

Firstly the site: The Farmiloe Building. We find its poetic decadence and intrinsic history most inspiring. We love the fragmentation of the building and the never ending number of hidden corners. Secondly, we thrived on the idea of having five different solutions to the same commission with same means.

What design challenges did you face with your box?

Generally we found the need to strictly use only the colour white on every single material most challenging. Also, we found difficult to work with a reduced arrange of specific assigned materials. Particularly on our assigned space, we were challenged by the narrowness and reduced space to work on. It gave us some headaches having a staircase in use by the tenants inside our space.

Which material in your box do find most interesting to work with and why?

We actually liked all materials assigned. We have tried to take them out its natural context and give them a twist. We have bravely experimented with each material and give them a different use to innovate and suggest new possibilities for the material, which could be also interesting for the suppliers.

Where have you taken your inspiration from for your box?

We found inspiration on geometric concepts; the multiple variations of cube, square, equilateral triangle, etc. Also we researched on Italian Modernism movement to inspire us on giving the space a sense of transparency and communication to the original building.

What are you looking forward to most about the Awards ceremony this year?

Obviously the drinks! Seriously, to see how the rest of the designers have solved their spaces. And most importantly, have a great time like we had last year.

Ampersand   Resized

Roberto Pajares of Apero, at The Ampersand Hotel, London

Not only is Apero one of the shortlisted projects for this year’s awards, designed by Dexter Moren Associates but it is hosting the bar in Box 1 at the Farmiloe Building this year.

Other than your own, which is your favourite restaurant or bar and why?

Grain Store by Bruno Loubet and the Zetter Group in Kings Cross where the focus shifts away from meat and fish and the emphasis is on vegetables…it’s got a laid back vibe but the service is excellent and the food is truly inspiring, changing the way you think about how you eat. The cocktail bar is a collaboration with Tony Conigliaro and featuressmoked or herb infused wines as well has some great savoury and house cocktails. You can also pop next door to Caravan for great coffee or if the sun is shining sit out on the terrace at the Grain Store – its great on weekends too.

What attracts you to a bar or restaurant?

The feel of the place is really important. Nowhere too stuffy, with good food, nice drinks and reasonably priced. I like sharing and sitting at a counter, and Barrafina in Soho or Jose in Bermondsey are both great for this. I recently also had a great experience at Little Social, the service is less formal than the Social eating house next door and Michael West, the GM is a real pro.

What would be your ideal location for a new restaurant or bar?

I would love to open something in Brixton Market, as it’s not too far from where I live and it’s full of little independent bars and restaurants. The lower rents make it more affordable for start-ups with low fit out costs and it’s got a bit of the East London vibe about it but feels less pretentious.

Which is your favourite Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2012/13 shortlisted project, and why?

Bounce for fun and Apero for eating and drinking; either takesitself too seriously and they don’t feel over-designed. Dexter Moren worked with the stylist, Hannah Lohan on Apero who put together our cabinet of curiosities, it’s a focus at the entrance and the objects are a talking point when you’re sitting at the bar or in the restaurant. Russell Sage who designed Bounce is also brilliant at adding extra layers to his projects, making them feel like they’ve been there for some time and not brand new.

What is your favourite materials to work with, and why?

I like warmer materials, reclaimed wood, the patina you get with zinc when wears on a bar or the discoloration of copper on the outside of buildings.

What are you looking forwards to most about the Awards ceremony this year?

Running the Apero bar at the Awards; the team are drawing straws for who gets to work the bar! Cocktails will be Aperitif based, so we’ll probably do some Americano’s and Apero Spritz for speed and also the Tintoreto, which is our take on the classic negroni.

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