Kinnersley Kent Design draws upon French riviera for London’s Bandol restaurant

Bandol, a new restaurant in Chelsea, London delivers the cuisine of rustic southern France from within a warm and contemporary environment. The venue features copper, distressed oak, steel, concrete, brick, smoked glass and artful lighting, as well as a large central olive tree and is designed by Kinnersley Kent Design, which has studios in both London and Dubai.

Entry area with bar to the left.

The team behind Bandol, Sylvia Kontek and Vittorio Monge, came to the project fresh from the success of their Margaux restaurant in South Kensington. While Margaux’s main point of reference centres on the wines of the Bordeaux area, Bandol takes its inspiration from the food and wines of the Provence and Riviera regions of southern France.

Two zinc tables sit directly behind the fascia.

“The challenge was how to combine the urban and the rural and still keep it authentic and harmonious,” says Kontek. “Designers have achieved an incredible transformation of the place and managed not only to create much bigger premises but, with their choice of materials, textures, colours and selection of living plants, they managed to marry the industrial with the rustic countryside, making space that is both chic and cozy.”

The intimate, 70-cover restaurant, measuring 200m2 over two storeys, is made up of a ground floor bar and dining area, with a kitchen, customer toilets and back of house space on the lower-ground floor.

Reclaimed French ‘riddling racks’ for champagne storage, are used for the semi-private dining areas.

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“The long and fairly narrow spatial arrangement presented us with a number of design challenges,” explains Jenny Andersson, KKD associate director, “including how to make the best of the available natural light. We additionally had to be as clever as possible in achieving a feeling of luxury on a relatively tight budget, which also had to cover an entirely new kitchen.”

Leather upholstery to the left of the restaurant space.

According to him, the main architectural intervention was the creation of an enlarged wall opening between the bar and the restaurant to ensure sightlines from the entrance right through space from the moment customers enter. Other intervention involved the re-arrangement of the air-conditioning in the first half of the restaurant, which allowed for a half-metre gain in ceiling height. A virtue was made of the restaurant’s slim footprint by the design of a series of zoned spaces and continued visual interest so that there is something new to catch the eye at every stage.

Added greenery, in the form of a climbing ivy living wall on a metal trellis, plus an external bamboo plant framed by the rear door, add to the outdoor feel.

The first of two semi-private dining spaces to the left also acts as a wine store.

“Our design DNA for the space was the use of copper throughout as a signifier of the warmth of the Provence and Riviera regions”, comments Andersson, “together with a light materials palette of pale brick, concrete render, oak flooring, blond timbers, white, grey and wicker chairs, smoked glass and a colour palette of greys, blues and the palest salmon pink. A sense of the outside is given by the indoor planting of lemon trees in pots, ivy at the rear and the half-ton, up-lit olive tree at the restaurant’s heart. Industrial design notes maintain a sense of contemporaneity, with an overall feel of al fresco dining in a warm clime.’

Bespoke copper piping lights and taps feature in the restaurant’s lower-ground toilets.

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As customers enter the space, they are greeted by two feature areas – the bar to the left, lit by a long display of 24 glass pendants spaced out in different sizes, lengths and colours and a series of four tables to the right, made of cantilevered, L-shaped copper panels which continue as far as one metre up the wall and are lit by bespoke bare-bulb, copper pipe pendant lights. The wall surround around the copper panels is in a concrete render, with a rough finish to add textural interest.

The bar features a bespoke copper top, which extends via a bull-nosed edge beyond the rough-rendered concrete bar front, which uses the same finish as the right-side wall. The bar back area is made up of a copper piping framework with glazed shelving. White-seated and timber-framed bar stools are by Normann Copenhagen while the bar-surround flooring is in a series of dark and light grey hexagonal concrete tiles with bold red grouting.

A new window in the rear semi-enclosed dining space lets more natural light into the restaurant.

Flooring in this area and throughout the remaining space is a sanded, aged and stained oak, giving the impression of being weathered and already in-situ for some time.

The feature lighting display over the bar includes glass pendants from Royal Copenhagen while the two sizes of alternating copper-and-wood alternating pendant lighting to the rear of the restaurant are from Libra. The lighting in the semi-screened wine-store and dining areas is in the form of hand-blown, smoked glass pendants.

Two sizes of copper and wood pendant lights from Libra alternate to the rear of the restaurant.

Tables in the main restaurant space are in bespoke, patinated zinc, with natural wood and pale grey chairs. The ledge behind the booths is punctuated by small lemon trees in terracotta plants, further underlining the ‘outside-in’ feel.

Two semi-private dining areas on the left of the restaurant are enclosed by floor-to-ceiling screens with mild steel frames and copper mesh and can each seat up to six people. Empty, reclaimed riddling racks, sourced from France and traditionally used to house champagne, are used in these dining areas as a form of wall-panelling. The furniture treatment is also slightly different in these two rooms and includes bespoke bamboo table tops and black leather, steel-framed dining chairs.

Mirrors to the right of the restaurant extend the feeling of space. Photo: Kate Berry

The first of the areas, encased in an aged brick surround, also wraps neatly around the restaurant’s central service core, where the food hoist is located, along with a wine storage system built into its outside wall, featuring LED up-lighting and allowing full access from the bar area.