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Exclusive Q&A: Restaurant & Bar Design Week 2014

Senior Design Consultant Nick Shute

Senior Design Consultant at Conran Contracts Nick Shute


If you’re anything like us, it’s no longer just the food and drink that attracts us to the hottest restaurants and bars in London. We’re looking for atmospheric lighting, statement-making furniture and avant-garde design to set the scene.

Taking place in London from the 28th July to 3rd August 2014, Restaurant & Bar Design Week will showcase the most innovative new restaurants and bars, their interiors and furniture.

We chat to Nick Shute, Senior Design Consultant at Conran Contracts, about his must-see projects, why food and drink spaces are in the spotlight and how to get your free tickets.

Tom's Kitchen Canary Wharf

Tom's Kitchen Canary Wharf, Michaelis Boyd Associates / Photography: Richard Lewisohn


What is Restaurant & Bar Design Week and why should we go?

It’s a series of events celebrating some of the most innovative restaurants and bar venues that have opened in London in the past 12 months. There’s a particular focus on interiors and the furniture and lighting which has been selected. 30 venues have been shortlisted and six will hold events that are open to the public, with Q&A sessions between the architects and operators, focusing on the design brief and how they achieved their vision.

How are Conran Contracts involved with Restaurant & Bar Design Week?

​As the key partner, we’ve worked closely with the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards to hand-pick the shortlisted venues and hosted events. We have a great deal of experience in the restaurant industry and are very familiar with the suppliers used on all projects. As a result we’re well placed to judge when design has been used in an innovative way.

Tom's Kiitchen Canary Wharf

Tom's Kitchen Canary Wharf, Michaelis Boyd Associates / Photography: Richard Lewisohn


As a Senior Design Consultant for Conran Contracts how do you approach a client brief?

Client briefs vary depending on a whole host of influences, for example when Michaelis Boyd Associates approached us to work on Tom's Kitchen in Canary Wharf they were looking for a rustic, textured, handmade aesthetic with some amazing feature pendants.

The client ended up selecting lighting pieces by Decode including an elegant slip cast concrete shade called Heavy; every light has unique markings caused by random air pockets and veining. Plus, a pendant called I/O by Aditi Studios which is made using mud, dust, silk, glass, brass and iron amongst other materials and is hand-hewn by artisan makers. For the feature pendant we found a Latvian company called Mammalampa that manufacture a pendant from corroding steel whilst covering the inside with 23,75 carat gold plate.

This is an example of the free specification service which all our consultants offer to our clients, we feel that this adds a great deal of value to our work and with all our closest clients we like to feel like an extension to their own design team.

The Magazine Serpentine Galleries

The Magazine Serpentine Galleries, Zaha Hadid / Photography: Ed Reeve


Do you think there is a growing interest in design-led restaurant and bar spaces? 

Yes, competition is fierce in the restaurant and bar design scene and it has become increasingly apparent that venues must make a statement to standout from their rivals. Those regular to The Conran Shop are already very familiar with the impact great design can have on their homes and lifestyle and in the same way restaurants and bars adhere to a design-led policy which can greatly enhance the overall dining experience of the clientele.

How can the public get involved?

It’s easy and free to reserve tickets for any of the six Q&A sessions by visiting the Restaurant & Bar Design Week website. Eating out in these venues allows design connoisseurs the opportunity to experience different design styles, while the talks between the operator and designer offer a unique chance to gain insight into their perspective. My hope is that the public can use this to take inspiration back into their homes and lives.

Great Court British Museum

Great Court British Museum, Softroom / Photography: Richard Heald


What are your must-see projects on the Restaurant & Bar Design Week trail and why?

All the projects are must-see in their own right for anyone with a passion for food and design. However, if I'm allowed to be biased I would recommend Tom's Kitchen, a wonderful restaurant with some very interesting design that we’re very proud to have been involved with.

My other recommendation would be the Great Court in the British Museum, an incredible location and a lot of the furniture was manufactured by Benchmark Furniture who were co-founded by Terence Conran and make a lot of pieces exclusively for The Conran Shop.

For more information visit Restaurant & Bar Design Week.