Michaelis Boyd Associates have recently completed Cabana Brixton, a 160-cover restaurant and bar in the locally listed Bon Marché Centre in the heart of Brixton and the latest addition for the Cabana Barbecue chain. The designers pay tribute to the historic hand carved Bon Marché by retaining all of its wear and imperfections and simply hanging all signage internally. A new staircase and ramped bridge creates a dramatic entrance.
Brixton was an opportunity to push Cabana’s brand in a new direction in a traditional high street setting. Using several artists and local charity the Brixton Remakery as suppliers, Michaelis Boyd combined a much wider spectrum of materiality and textures.
Using the cabana hut to divide the space physically, the studio integrated different types of fixed seating in the windows, combined with different finishes and furniture to give an eclectic haphazard feel. There is a bar on each floor, clad in upcycled materials – pallet boards, and packing crates painted with Brazilian suppliers and transport companies.
The fit out is particularly colourful and appealing, capturing the attention of passers by from the outside due to the full height windows which reveal exploded lights made from pieces of locally reclaimed timber, coinciding with the upcycling theme. Neon was chosen due to the amount of light and warmth they produced.
The most significant new element of the project became the bar – shifting Cabana’s focus from merely a dispense bar to a ‘caipirinha and cocktail’ bar where visitors could sit. This enabled the basement floor to have its own separate identity, while adding to the dining space from the ground floor.
Incorporating displays and more artwork into the scheme has been a new addition, helping to divide spaces and strengthen the link between many of the design elements and their Brazilian references.
An element of craft is visible everywhere in the restaurant – whether in furniture, lighting and wall paintings – making each zone feel informal, interesting and comfortable. Tables, chairs and fabrics are varied, but tie in with their immediate zone. This allows the zones to feel busy without seeming chaotic.
By adding a bigger variety of items, the result is a warmer, more engaging restaurant, while offering a hierarchy of dining and drinking areas that are easy to operate and look inviting from all angles.