Olivomare Restaurant / Pierluigi Piu

Architects: Pierluigi Piu
Project location: London, UK
Client: Olivo
Date: 2007

Olivomare is one of a handful of restaurants encompassed by the London brand Olivo. Each 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, :

“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.”

Cite: "Olivomare Restaurant / Pierluigi Piu" 24 Feb 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=14829>
  • pathos

    Nice lighting design. Not loving the white floors however.

  • Opium

    Hope the food’s better

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    My favorite restaurant in London where the sublime Sardinian cuisine exceeds the decor, which is excellent but acoustically bright.

    The spatial solution is excellent, especially in the Belgravia neighborhood where there is little of any visual interest to enjoy while eating out. The tyranny of the New York/London corridor is broken up a bit by the separation of the entrance and the glass wall to your left as you enter. The whole thing manages to be light and fresh – significantly different that the comparable effort by Claudio Silvestrin – l’anime which is all about culinary and architectural pretense.

    This restaurant is light and happy the way a good Sardinian restaurant in London ought to be.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  • http://www.desbastando.blogspot.com sebastian

    the texture work it’s great.

  • http://www.sgurin.ucoz.ru/ sgurin

    Очень эфектно. Effectively.

  • Bo

    согласен с pathos белые полы нехорошо, да и не практично.
    pathos right white floors unlikely.

  • bart

    somebody studied escher for there fish decoration on the wall

  • daidalos

    For anyone who has been to the real Sardinia this place will seem utterly meaningless. I do have a feeling that the food will be similarly the same kind of mediocrity.

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    Caro Daldalos, e semplice di giudicare una cosa e confondere per un altro, mah come tanti cose semplice da fare, non rende chiaro l’idea. Come si deve rendere la Sardinia a Londra? Dimmi tu! La Sardinia, chiaramente, non e Londra. Magari tu se favorevole a una kitsch spropositato in cui si rende la Sardinia come una commedia.

    Credo di capire un po di cosa vuol dire Sardinia, come ho calpestato per anni. Anche credo di avere capito una cosa, magari due, della cucina Sardo. Cosi mi senti giusto quando dice tu se un gran bel TDC.

  • temple

    nice work

  • http://www.eva-atelier.net zEro

    The sterilized ambient in contraste with the obvious analogy to the sea results in an astonishing space, congratulations!

  • inavars

    is this intended to make people dizzy?

  • flavin

    the walls are amazing, the decoration make a huge first impresion