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M TWICKENHAM

This is the third offering by restaurateur Martin Williams for the rapidly expanding M Restaurant group and his first ‘Social’ style eatery. Located in a new mixed use development within the Old Brewery complex in Twickenham and right opposite the newly renovated Underground station, this new venture has a truly British design flavour to it. The brief was simple; to encapsulate the qualities of a traditional British pub and present them within a contemporary idiom. Top London interior designer, René Dekker was once again called in to create this cosy yet stylish restaurant.

The first phase of the project entailed dividing the space up into a workable general arrangement consisting of a destination bar, an informal eating space (including a wine tasting area), formal dining, kitchen, facilities and back of house/staff. The space although generous by any standard, around 3 000 square feet, was significantly smaller than the previous two restaurants and was governed by pre-determined facility locations. This meant only two options for the location of the kitchen. Several design layouts were presented based on these criteria as well as the inclusion of banquette seating and Martin's desired couverts number.

Once these details were ironed out, the award winning interior designers began working on the design; what would this restaurant look like, lighting schemes, colour and style etc.? René Dekker started by analysing what elements constituted a traditional British Pub and decided the list should include the following; Timber (oak) for floors and joinery, brass and/or copper which would be found in details and lighting, mirror, patterned glass, leather for seating and patterned carpet. In order for the interior of this ‘Pub’ not to follow classical construction, the scheme used the elements in a deconstructed manner. The floor needed to be in timber as pubs traditionally had a mix of parquet or plank floor combined with carpet. To create this look but making use of 21st century technology as well as saving money, the floor in the informal eating area and bar was laid in a basket weave Amtico. The interior designer used 4 types of timber finish in varying shades to give a strong contrast and pattern which also created an interesting ambiance and talking point. Walking into the restaurant, they positioned a well-designed M within the intricate patterning of the basket weave, emphasising the brand and experience. They further added shelving and storage in key areas throughout to give the eatery more of a lounge feel which would later be filled with a mix of books and magazines as well as plates and glasses. Walls were then hung in a finely textured covering while the ceiling was kept exposed.

As you walk into M Twickenham, you are met by a full height full width bar which dominates the space and invites you in with its warm tones and textures and its reflective surfaces. The bar front is made from stained oak to match one of the Amtico shades and is punctuated by three deep buttoned upholstered panels in green leather, deftly framed in painted mouldings quite traditional on the one hand but brought up to date by the contemporary styling. The design includes a thick, distressed copper top which on the one hand adds an air of authenticity as well as being highly durable. The more wear and tear the counter top receives, the more authentic it looks! Behind the bar there is a full height to ceiling unit consisting of fridges and kegs at low level and display/storage above. The idea behind the design of the high level storage is to create impact and interest. It would have been easy to have just shelving storage for glasses and bottles but the luxury interior designers wanted to make it more than just functional. By mixing the practical storage areas in with display, they manage to create a visually interesting structure. Divided up into varying shapes and sizes, the niches hold everything from the wine and spirit bottles to glasses and bar style objets. Creating further levels of interest, they added a mix of copper sheeting, tinted mirror and patterned glass to the backs of the niches as well as integrated LED lighting to some of the shelving, generating sparkle and light to the already intricate design. Finally, pendants were added, an amazing set of large hand blown LED bulbs by Tala Lighting, simple and uncomplicated adding mood and style without taking away from the main attraction.

The informal eating area occupies about a third of the space and consists of a selection of low comfortable seating and casual tables to the one side with tall poseur tables and bar chairs to the other. To add to the décor and atmosphere, the interior designer made sure to upholster the chairs in a combination of fabrics, all colour matched to keep the essence of the original vision; copper, green and grey and these are offered in a variety of textures from velvet to linen. Typically a chair will have three fabrics, one on the outside back, one on the inside back and seat and one for the piping. The low tables are made using a mixture of stone for the tops and copper for the bases. The designers were keen to leave the ceiling exposed for several reasons, not least to save on the budget but also to give the scheme a more relaxed feel. To that end they experimented with the lighting by creating deconstructed chandeliers; by picking a few key points in the restaurant to locate the main power supply, they extended the cabling to secondary points strategically located above tables where they positioned the exposed light bulbs. Through this design they managed to get 60 light bulbs from 11 points. To ensure these light sculptures fitted in with the overall palette, copper fittings and cabling were used which stand out in contrast to the dark grey ceiling.

While most of the interior decor such as the travertine wall covering and the oak joinery are the same throughout, the formal part of the restaurant is slightly more sophisticated. To the left the scheme includes three intimate banquette areas, upholstered in moss green leather with a copper over tone. The table tops are finished in dark stained oak to match the joinery and the intimacy is further enhanced by adding ‘family style’ portraits by the ubiquitous photographer Slim Aaron. The island banquette is a double sided seating arrangement with a stained timber frame and panelled grey leather upholstery. Single tables were added again with dark stained tops and copper bases and the chairs compliment the scheme with their grey leather and copper fabric combination. The formality is confirmed by the use of chandeliers in the form of the Light Shade Shade from Moooi. These traditional fittings encased in a ghostly reflective shade allow the space to feel both traditional as well as contemporary. Finally, the floor is laid in a bespoke design multi-colour carpet in several shades of grey, rust, cream and green giving the space a high end feel.

The bathrooms take on very much the traditional feel and with this in mind were all given the same scheme using different shades; Men makes use of green, Ladies uses rose and the disabled is in green. The essence of each room uses rectangular faceted metro tiles about two thirds of the way up the wall, Shaker style vanity units with solid marble tops, black and white chequerboard floor tiles and contemporary pendants.

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