Stiff & Trevillion brings stripped-back look to Jamie’s Italian
TV chef adds design ingredients to Guildford restaurant
Project: Jamie’s Italian
Architect: Stiff & Trevillion
Location: Guildford, Surrey
Launched in the spring of last year, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant chain is now seven-strong with more branches set to open next year. Oliver has thought carefully about his restaurant brand and has appointed two quite different designers to work on the interiors — Stiff & Trevillion Architects and interior designer Martin Brudnizki.
Diarmuid Cleary one of Stiff & Trevillion’s project architects for the Guildford branch of Jamie’s Italian, which opened last month, says having the two designers ensures there’s healthy competition between the two.
Oliver attended the initial design meetings for the Guildford restaurant and, says Cleary, had a very definite idea about what he wanted.
“He likes a retro look and wanted to see the building stripped back to its core to give a rustic appearance,” says Cleary. “He’s very specific about the colour scheme for the seating and really likes reds and blues.”
The Guildford restaurant is an early 1970s former Midland bank building, essentially circular, but tapering into a teardrop shape to the rear. It is built in brown/purple brick punctuated with a two-storey glazed facade which creeps around from the north to its main entrance on the east side. The architect removed the PVC window panels, opened up the main entrance and replaced the glazed element with solid oak vertical frames.
Working with graphic designer The Plant, the architect developed the design of the laser-cut steel gate — a material repeatedly used for the interior — which is pulled across the main entrance when the restaurant is closed. The gate has a fret-cut retro three-wheeled Italian van spot-welded onto it, together with an inset menu board — the Italian transport design is a recurring theme.
The interior is dominated by reds, electric blues, and browns. Cleary says when they stripped out the plaster, bare-faced concrete was revealed beneath. They decided to leave the concrete in its raw state, forming one of the main surfaces in the restaurant. Also retained and left in their natural splendour are the eight concrete structural columns and the three concrete ring beams. The ring beam has been cut down near the main entrance by 0.5m to draw in more light. A false ceiling was removed, revealing a large void which has now been insulated and clad in a breathable membrane and strips of rough sawn timber painted white.
The plant equipment has been placed above the ceiling to the back of house area on the first floor and cleverly concealed with mirrored panels, giving an impression of a much larger space.
An original spiral stair was removed and a new steel stair, treated with a gun-metal oil, has been inserted towards the front of the restaurant, connecting the two floors. As Cleary highlights, the two floors are quite different from each other. The ground floor is more enclosed and uses darker colours. It also features a less decorative floor — poured polished concrete — compared to the more elaborate three-coloured concrete floor above.
Stiff & Trevillion is now working on the next Jamie’s Italian for Reading, which is due to open in March next year.
Reclaimed timber and Georgian wire glass
Reclaimed pine panelling has been used on the backs and sides of the banquette seating area, the walls, the face of the bars on both ground and first floor levels, and the dining table tops.
The reclaimed appearance of the timber gives a rough and rustic feel to the restaurant.
Sections of Georgian wire glass have been slotted in between booths and banquettes to provide a visual demarcation between individual booths and diners.
Decorative cement tiles
The distinctive red, blue and dark brown triangle-patterned cement tiles were handmade s in Morocco. The 200mm square tiles are based on a colour scheme and design recommended by the architect.
A 10mm-thick grey cement base is made first, on to which four triangular divisions are fixed within a copper mould. The appropriate colours — red, blue and dark brown — are mixed with finely crushed marble and white cement and “piped” into the individual sections, increasing the tiles’ overall thickness to 16mm.
Once the mixture has hardened, the moulds are removed, sometimes resulting in the slight blurring of colours that characterises these tiles.
The sand/cement mixture is added to fill the back of the tile, and a hydraulic press used to compress the tile, which is then left to dry in the sun for several days and the tile’s surface gently buffed. When they arrive on site, the tiles are laid and fixed with adhesive.
The tiles are marketed by In Situ International, based in London’s Fulham, and cost £65 per sq m.
Steel, treated with a gun-metal oil to give it a dark tone, is used throughout the restaurant, from the polished stainless steel wind vane —which incorporates a Vespa and farm animals on top of an oversized letter “J” — to the laser-cut steel security gate over the entrance.
Inside, honeycomb-patterned steel mesh provides privacy between the spaces and is also used as a screen behind the ground seating area and the steel stairs leading to the first floor.
The laser-cut mesh is also used as a balustrade at first floor level. Formed into a “J”, it has also been used throughout for the handles to the doors, as well as for the frame shelving to the bar on the first floor.
Original print headline - Jamie’s Italian
Project team and suppliers
Architect Stiff & Trevillion, Client Jamie’s Italian, Structural engineer Thomasons, Main contractor Tekne Shopfitters, Polished concrete floor Creation Floors, Wall tiles Focus Ceramics, Decorative cement floor & wall tiles In Situ International, Glazed bricks Ibstock Bricks, Cookline counter Pyrolave
Photo credits: Kilian O’Sullivan