Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant in Heathrow’s Terminal II, The Perfectionists’ Café has been designed with Britishness from the 1960s and 70s in mind. The concept, by AfroditiKrassa takes a celebration of travel and the menu from those two eras that distinguish Great Britain from other European destinations. AfroditiKrassa took inspiration from TV and film, referencing Mad Men and Catch Me If You Can to drive the design.
The late furniture and interior designer Verner Panton also influenced the design, with Saul Bass, an American graphic designer who created various branding for airlines in the same decades. The colourful, ironic and quirky influences of both can be seen in the artwork on the wall and colour palate; classic and warm, with a touch of wit and irony. The weight of the furniture and the lighting focuses on the dishes, to accentuate the creativity behind the cooking.
The open kitchen forms the centrepiece and the rest of the design radiates from it. Divided into zones, there is a bar, bakery and deli, with a retail space dedicated to the famous chef at the entrance. The last zone is an ice-cream parlour, which serves the chef’s iconic liquid nitrogen ice cream, with bespoke pipework bringing the substance to the workstations.
In prime position is the food, reflecting Heston Blumenthal’s passion for its art. The ‘protagonist of the kitchen’ is the wood-fired oven, like the nitrogen, it’s a first within an airport.
I have a simple challenge each time, to design the true category definer. It takes some guts to want to challenge the status quo, yet this is where my studio operates, this is where interior design gets really exciting because it becomes much more than colours, finishes and trends. I want to turn spaces into three‐dimensional stories infused with meaning, innovation and timeless value.
says Studio Founder, Afroditi Krassa
A communal table at the entrance forms a great feature; shaped like a propeller (feature image), it is a subtle reference to airplanes and travel in general. Anchoring the design is the hexagonal pattern, referring to an aerial view of Heathrow from 1955, which shows the airport runways casting intricate patterns in a hexagonal shape, onto the tarmac surrounds.
The interior design harks back to an era that has nostalgically moulded the Modern British identity: The glamorous world of travel in the 60s and the timeless elegance of those two eras.
Bold and vibrant colours and materials are used: dark timbers and marble, deep and pale blues, orange and mustard are contrasted with strong black and white patterns, immortalising the era. Formica, the iconic material that defined design in the 60s, is also used with leather and brass details.
A different pace is set across the restaurant through the spacial arrangement of furniture and textured materials. To the entrance and front of the restaurant is the bar, which is dynamic and fast paced, with high stools combined with hard tile surfaces and marble.
Loose flexible tables allow customers to have a quick cocktail or shared plate while seated at the full-length bar. The pace slows as customers move away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal with a more relaxed dining experience created by soft, warm furnishings.
The ‘observer booths’ (below) are a highlight in the space, allowing people to begin their journey in true style, by watching planes taking off and landing. This feature extends the design beyond the layout, colour and finishes, infusing the smell of the kitchen with the sound of the space.
Bespoke lighting from Northern Lights played an important role in creating the atmosphere of a glamorous bygone era. Featuring vibrant red, black and gold colours with brass detail, the fittings complement the spectacular interior accentuating the creativity behind the cooking. The cone-shaped lamp shades give a retro feel with the perforated brass diffusers adding a touch of British eccentricity.
Krassa explains, “We picked up on the multi‐sensorial element of Heston’s cooking and set ourselves a brief that challenged the boundaries of restaurant design. I wanted this restaurant not to feel like a compromise, as so many airport restaurants do, but a destination; a place that has a real sense of arrival and a buzz of optimism running through its DNA, just like the food you are about to be served.”
Images © AfroditiKrassa