Design concept for Heston Blumenthal’s new The Perfectionists’ Café at Heathrow T2
Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant, The Perfectionists’ Café, for which leading London-based restaurant and hospitality design specialist AfroditiKrassa conceived the concept, is now open at Heathrow’s newly-redeveloped Terminal 2.
AfroditiKrassa’s design concept for The Perfectionists’ Café is taken from the menu itself – Modern British signature dishes of the 1960s and 1970s that distinguish Great Britain from the rest of Europe – and a celebration of travel in that era. To drive the design language, AfroditiKrassa looked for inspiration in iconic movie and TV references such as Mad Men and Catch Me If You Can. Inspiration was also drawn from influential furniture and interior designer Verner Panton, and the colourful, humorous and ironic work of American graphic designer Saul Bass, who created the branding for various airlines in those decades.
“I have a simple challenge each time, to design the true category definer. It takes come 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.
The interior design is a nod to an era in which part of the Modern British identity is anchored and looked upon with great nostalgia. Classic and warm with a touch of wit and irony, it takes its essence from within the glamorous world of travelling in the 1960s and is inspired by the timeless elegance of the 60s and 70s. Materials and colour used are both rich and vibrant: dark timbers, dark marble & brown veining, leather and brass detailing and iconic 60s material Formica; strong black & white patterns contrasted with the bold and vibrant colours of that era, dark and pale blues, orange and mustard.
The spatial arrangement is based on sensorial experiences and setting a different ‘pace’ across the restaurant. The front of the restaurant is quick and dynamic, combining high sittings, loose flexible tables and hard surfaces such as tiles and marble. Customers can enjoy a quick shared plate or cocktail at the over-sized bar. As customers progress into the space, the pace slows down to a more relaxed dining experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal. The finishes are warmer and softer. Key seats in the house are the observer booths from which customers can see the planes taking off and landing and start their journey in true style.
The main feature at the entrance is the communal table, shaped as a propeller, a subtle reference to airplanes and travel in general. It is anchored on a hexagonal pattern, which refers to the site itself: an aerial view of Heathrow taken in 1955 shows the airport defined by a clear hexagonal shape casting intricate patterns onto the site’s tarmac surrounds.
Celebrating its famous chef, Blumenthal, the open and theatrical kitchen anchors the space and creates a centre point from which the layout radiates. The kitchen is divided in zones: the ice cream parlour offers Blumenthal’s iconic liquid nitrogen ice cream, a first in an airport. Located in decanters the nitrogen is brought to the working station through bespoke pipes. Progressing into the space, there is a bar with a bakery and deli offer. Food is always in prime position in the space and reflects Heston Blumenthal’s passion for its art. The protagonist of the kitchen is the exposed wood fired oven, again, a first within an airport. Finally, a retail space dedicated to the famous chef is located at the entrance.
“This restaurant design extends beyond the layout, the colour and the finishes; it is the sound of the space, the smell of the kitchen, the weight of furniture and the clever lighting on the dishes that accentuate the creativity behind the cooking. 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,” explains Krassa.
About Afroditi Krassa
Afroditi Krassa has led her eponymous design studio from strength to strength in its 12 years of operation. Taking design as a practical methodology, Krassa established the studio on graduation from the RCA and has increased the potential of design and branding manifold, adding depth to creative processes and realising that brands need to look beyond interior spaces to get their message communicated, a challenge she relishes with intense passion and commitment. This holistic
approach to design means that the studio has worked with leading hospitality brands including Itsu, Sketch, Café Rouge, Dishoom, Heston Blumenthal and Curzon Cinemas, where the involvement stretches way beyond design as an environmental element, incorporating product design, ambient intention and brand philosophy.