Architects: Pierluigi Piu
Project location: London, UK
Olivomare is one of a handful of restaurants encompassed by the London brand Olivo. Each restaurant offers a unique menu, and Olivomare offers a premiere seafood-only based selection of foods. The decor is meant to reflect the elegant simplicity of the dishes being prepared.
The restaurant is primarily clad in white, exuding a pristine and contemporary atmosphere. The lighting is soft, indirect and ambient, like that of sunlight as seen from underwater. It flows down recessed edges in the ceiling, permeates through an overhead skylight and filters between a tentacle-like ceiling detail.
The modern interior repeatedly uses patterns and textures that reference an underwater seascape. The wall of the lobby uses a white, diamond-shaped partition reminiscent of fishing nets. Opposite of the partition is the main dining room with a bold accent wall of what appears to be a condensed school of fish, the pattern inspired by Escher. Another section of the dining room is engulfed in a white, undulating wall, evoking the sandy surface of a windswept beach. Lastly, the bathroom area reinterprets a coral reef in large, scaled red patterning.
The overall design is completely void of blue. This was an intentional move on behalf of the architect in order to segregate this upscale restaurant from other stereotypical blue-themed seafood venues. Olivomare has recently won two design awards: First prize awarded for Interior Design in the Archi.Bau Design Awards 2009 and first prize awarded for Interior Design in the International Design Awards 2008.
From the architect, Pierluigi Piu:
“OLIVOMARE is the last born belonging to the well known London brand OLIVO, and is a restaurant serving seafood. Apart from his name, such peculiarity is highlighted by the formal and decorative language adopted here to focus on its aspect using more or less clear references to the sea world and environment. The most explicit among them undoubtedly is the wide wall that characterizes the main dining room, entirely covered by a large cladding featuring a pattern inspired by the works of the visionary artist Maurits Escher, in which each single portion of colour is laser cut out of a sheet of opaque laminated plastic and juxtaposed on the vertical surface exactly as if it was a huge jigsaw puzzle.
To counterpoint it, in this same room, from a channeling recessed in the fake ceiling drops down a linear sequence of tubular luminescent tentacles (made out of an extra thin nylon net) evoking a stray shoal of jellyfishes or of sea anemones, while in the wide lozengy glazed partition dividing this room from the entrance lobby somebody could vaguely recognize the meshes of fishers’ nets. In the small dining room at the rear (flooded by natural daylight copiously dropping down through a wide skylight expressly open in its roof), the cladding of its only continuous wall – which also includes a large curve –
is characterized by a wavy relief meant to evoke the sandy surface of the beach when moulded by the wind, while in the toilets lobby the intricate branches of a coral reef closes in around any visitor coming from the bright and open adjacent room.
Such decorative pattern is obtained by engraving a double layer (white and red) of thick opaque laminated plastic laid onto either walls and ceiling, and its entanglement, when combined with the hidden doors giving access to the toilets, adds a sense of momentary disorientation to its aesthetical surprise. A sea of white colour has been used to enhance and link all these elements, flooding all surrounding parts, from walls to ceiling, from the resin floor to the Corian® made bar counter; a white sea working in this environment as an undifferentiated neutral background that intentionally disappoints any predictable expectation for blue colour.”