It was early 2015 when Martin Williams, the CEO of M Restaurants and long-time client of René Dekker Design, asked the studio to provide a simple presentation for his new venture within the soon to be built Newfoundland Building on the banks of the canal with a dual aspect across the river. The presentation would form the basis of the development of the project over the next few years and would take on many different faces before finally settling with the award winning current scheme. During this process, there would be a pandemic that would shut down all leisure design projects for nearly 2 years, but regardless of the setbacks, a fantastic project would emerge to open its doors in the Summer of 2022.
The seven year journey started with an initial concept that relied heavily on previous projects for the group, in order to give it on the one hand a familiar feel but needed on the other to take inspiration from the surroundings. Without an actual building to take inspiration from, early schemes by London’s top interior designers, drifted towards the familiar; grey concrete, dark spaces, traditional panelling but all the while keeping in mind the full height windows that would form part of the superstructure, not a feature in any of the previous M’s! Some years went by before the lease was signed when we were asked to ‘refresh’ the scheme in March 2018. The building was well underway and it was the studios first chance to actually walk around and get a feel for the space. There were no windows but already the views were breath taking giving a hint of the special kind of eatery this could become. The plan had a few more iterations before we settled on the final layout. The scheme was again refreshed in 2019 and finally signed off by the clients in early 2020. The of course the world faced an unprecedented situation with the pandemic putting paid to any kind of development. It was a sad time for the studio, but we buttoned down the hatches so that we could weather the storm.
By May 2021, the clients took the bull by the horns and the project was resurrected! Yet more input was provided by the management creating a more dynamic feel to the layout as well as refreshing some of the finishes and the palette. The reception design on the ground floor is dominated by a heliacal glass and metal staircase, inviting all to climb its stairway to paradise! The back wall features a modern 3D ‘wavy’ wall covering from a historically traditional British wall paper manufacturer, Lincrusta and patrons can relax on the giant curved sofa.
Upon entering the first floor you are met with very high ceilings, full height windows and the most spectacular views of the Canary Wharf skyline. There is a small Lounge where patrons can have a drink while they wait for their table. The floor is laid with out of the ordinary polished blue onyx ceramic tiles, encapsulating the colours and the movement of water. Low slung nautical arm chairs, in dark timber with equally dark ’cannage’ upholstered backs and velvet seats, subtly provide a feeling of sea travel in its heyday! A shapely banquette made up of tropical 1920’s inspired timbers, suitably matching cocktail tables and a navy velvet banquette complete the scheme.
The Bar design is long and sexy with its mixture of satin steel and concrete finishes and faux blue marble top and there are 10 cognac leather bar chairs that marry up well with nautical feel. The feature bar display on the back wall is resplendent in bronze metallic shelving and sandblasted mirror all perfectly lit up with subtle recessed lighting design. Against the windows there are further leather bar chairs and modernised 1920’s style poseur tables in fluted walnut.
As the space is generally open plan, it is but a short walk from the Bar to the Restaurant. Here the interior design called for generous booths to be located on raised platforms, ensuring all the patrons would benefit from the remarkable view. The rear wall is hung in a large scale ‘random effect paint brush’ mural, aptly called Splash! The booths again make use of exotic timbers, midnight blue leather and ‘pointillist’ blue and white velvet and the pendants resemble a flock of birds. The floor at the lower level is a cheeky take on a boat deck. Here the inspired design uses three types of timber effect laminate and mixes them up into various shapes where each shape has the planks running in diverse directions. At the windows the scheme produced dining chairs to match the Lounge arm chairs all in the same timber and ‘cannage’ but using cognac tinted leather upholstery.
Whilst keeping with the theme by use of colour, the Grill is an extension of the Restaurant with the same bespoke carpet design as the raised area, the same cognac leather on the banquettes and the dark walnut frame of the chairs, yet it feels decidedly different! For one the views have changed so that there is a dual aspect over the canal as well as the river towards the City and the Shard. There is an eye catching feature wall clad in black slate cut to various sizes with each of the narrowest tiles highlighted by a tiny pin spot. There is a full height wine wall making use of clear Perspex sheets with cut-outs allowing the wine to look like its ‘floating’. Further interesting elements include ocean blue polished lacquer table tops and smart nautical inspired dining chairs. Simple spotlight pendants have been installed to provide maximum light without interrupting the view.
Like all the other restaurants in the group, this location boasts a ‘secret’ entrance to the private members den. Accessed through a large door in the slate tile wall, you are immediately transported to an underwater scene. The walls are panelled in dark walnut but the ceiling again uses the rippled water laminate to great effect with all the reflection of the up lights. At the end of the underwater corridor you will find yourself in the private members den. This scheme was entirely based on an iconic photo by Slim Aarons called Monaco, a photo of a classic Riva boat with its polished mahogany and stand out turquoise leather upholstery. Based on this photo, the scheme uses walnut panelling on the walls and turquoise leather on the banquette. Further pops of turquoise include the velvet bar chairs and patterned ‘steamer’ arm chair seat upholstery. The bar is clad in a beaten bronze finish and the tops are a white and turquoise faux marble finish.
There are two private dining rooms which can be opened up by way of large walnut bi-fold doors and extend the den scheme with the use of striped shades of blue and turquoise on the chairs and further walnut tables and joinery.
Monaco, the iconic photo by Slim Aarons with its beautiful Riva boat in lacquered mahogany and turquoise leather upholstery, was the inspiration for the private members Den, which overlooks the river Thames
As the sun sets over London, diners are entertained by the silhouette of The City and the Shard with wonderful colours appearing in the late summer sky