Harrison is a leading design consultancy, specialising in restaurant and bar branding, design and development. Over the course of the past decade, Harrison has worked on over 100 sites for Nando’s the Portuguese chicken restaurant chain, with each venue giving rise to individual design challenges. One of Harrison’s largest designs is Nando’s Westfield Stratford City, which accommodates up to 260 diners in Europe’s largest urban shopping centre.
Everyone involved in producing this restaurant were anxious to see fresh, innovative and dynamic ideas that would complement the scale and grandeur of the Stratford development, while still embodying the Nando’s brief of feeling African and Portuguese, natural, warm, fun and creative.
Every Nando’s location is unique, which affords a good degree of creativity to the architects and designers and avoids the formulaic interiors often seen in chain restaurants. Stand-out features in this restaurant include a hand-woven hickory ceiling supported by carved timber columns, vibrant artwork, bespoke wall tiles, a copper bar, cast concrete seating booths and mosaic flooring.
Artwork and art tiles
Most of the artwork in the restaurant was produced by African artists at the Spier Arts Academy in Cape Town, South Africa, working in collaboration with Harrison. This includes the 800 ceramic ‘pages’ tiles, which are installed at the entrance, each of which was individual and handmade. Tile supplier Parkside Tiles made cream tiles in a bespoke size to fit between the pages tiles, and maintain visual consistency, as the full wall had to be covered.
The artwork above the kitchen area mostly comprised canvas pieces, using paints and mixed media, along with some mosaics and beaded artwork.
Grey glazed wall tiles, used at the front of the kitchen and on the back wall, were made by Solus Ceramics to a size specified by the design team. They were rough glazed to reflect light well and were installed in a vertical brick-bond format consistent with the artwork above them.
The luxuriously patterned black and gold mosaic tiled floor, featuring products supplied by Parkside Tiles, has led to Harrison being nominated for The Tile Association awards 2012, for the best use of tiles in a hospitality project.
Parkside Tiles were approached by Nando’s to supply tiles for their flagship store at Westfield Retail Park at Stratford City. The result was a stunning, eye-popping array of colour, shape and texture that truly showcases the tiles through a design that challenges the breadth and depth of use of the humble ceramic, its design and application.
The copper bar was designed by Harrison and constructed by fit-out specialists the French Group. This sweeping seven-metre long server has an organic, rolling, golden oak counter top and a snaking frontage clad in glistening polished copper ‘armadillo’ bands.
At the rear of the restaurant, timber shingles (FSC labelled to Nando’s requirements) were used to clad a large area of wall. Timber shingles are generally used for external cladding applications, so Harrison asked the contractor apply an aging fluid to weather them artificially to give them a reclaimed feel. The shingles introduce additional rustic texture into the scheme. The design tiles to the entrance area, the commissioned artwork above the servery area and the timber shingles are all bespoke and supplied on a 1:1.5 ratio, so there is a visual consistency flowing through the curved wall, from the entrance to the very rear of the restaurant.
Wide engineered board, burnt oak flooring was supplied in a time-worn effect. It provides natural warmth and harmonises with other rustic elements of the interior while contrasting with the raw concrete circular booths and the soft red leather upholstery.
The large, heavily textured hazel ceiling coffer was formed with 10 metre long panels that were traditionally woven in a Suffolk field using split hazel branches by master hurdle maker David Downie. They were transported to site by articulated lorry, before being very carefully lifted and knitted into place overhead.
Four huge circular columns punctuate the hazel weave with spiralling swirls of colour. Two of the columns have been created by the artistic arrangement of hundreds of individual recycled bottle tops and the final two are made up of thousands of tightly coiled paper rolls from unwanted magazine publications bonded onto the column face. These are just one of the artworks created by Spier Arts Academy.
Kitchen equipment includes a six metre long co-ordinator, an extensive cookline equipment run, 30 square metres of cold room storage, a separate room housing four combi ovens and a large wash-up area with full recycling waste management. These facilities allow the restaurant to serve in excess of 200 customers.
The Harrison design team related the scheme back to the scale of the building by including several large features. Oversizing to the trumpet light fittings, increasing the servery length and specifying a wide board floor finish and large wall tiles all help to compensate for the size of the interior space. The hazel ceiling feature was created to envelop the central areas and connect the space as a whole. To soften the effect of the high ceiling, sparkly glass pendant lights were dropped down, and an intensity of tiny ‘firefly’ lights were installed through the central areas at varied lower levels, providing sparkle and movement. This also heightens the presence of the restaurant from outside areas.
Products & services
Tiles: Parkside Tiles, Solus Ceramics, Spier Art Academy
Bar: French Group
Concrete booths: Mass Concrete
Booth seating upholstery: Phil James
Loose furniture: Classic Furniture, Eclipse Contract Furniture
Lighting: Light Corporation
Hazel ceiling: David Downie, Hurdle Maker
Kitchen equipment: Catering Projects, Chapmans Ventilation
Columns: Artscene (bottle cap decoration)