London design office A-nrd has used a palette of neutral and natural materials to give this restaurant in Soho a laidback atmosphere reminiscent of an Australian beach club.
Milk Beach Soho is the brainchild of Sydney-born restaurateur Elliot Milne, who wanted to create an all-day eatery and night-time hotspot influenced by some of Australia’s casual dining venues.
The restaurant, which can seat 150 people, is located within the Ilona Rose House development in central London and occupies what was previously an empty shell and core unit.
A-nrd set out to design a transportive space for the eatery that replicates the feeling of coastal hospitality in Sydney’s Milk Beach neighbourhood without feeling alienating in its urban setting.
“We chose a natural, neutral palette to give the restaurant that beachfront feel,” said Alessio Nardi, who runs the studio together with Lukas Persakovas.
“We wanted to avoid any direct nautical motifs or tacky references to the seaside,” he told Dezeen. “Our design is intentionally quite minimal and plays with textures and subtle colours instead of using obvious motifs like ropes or model boats.”
The bright and airy space is grounded by a polished Palladiana terrazzo floor that was laid in situ, with large chunks of tonal marble set into a base of sand-coloured cement to create the effect of walking on a beach.
Walls treated with stucco and limewash bring warmth to the spacious interior, as well as creating a sense of consistency throughout the dining area and the adjacent bar.
Art deco buildings found in Sydney and the surrounding area informed some of the shapes used in the restaurant, including a curved nine-metre-long bar and the stuccoed wall that separates it from the main space.
The bar’s backsplash is formed from glossy off-white tiles that nod to the facade of the Sydney Opera House. The tiles alternate between a plain and relief pattern, adding texture and visual interest to the space.
The ceiling above the bar was lowered and clad in oak slats to create a cosier atmosphere, helped by flush art deco-style lights.
A-nrd designed much of the furniture for the restaurant, including sofas, banquettes and tables with soft shapes that extend the art deco influence.
Other bespoke designs used in the space include the two-metre-wide pendant lights that were crafted from bamboo by British metalworker David Barker’s company Lion Iron.
The use of natural materials also extends to the restaurant’s seating, made from timber and rattan or woven leather. The tables feature solid travertine tops and sculptural oak legs.
Wall lights made from Japanese paper by artist Celine Wright and an Abaca fibre pendant from Pinch provide warm, diffused illumination within the dining area.
The layout of the space takes advantage of the building’s large lightwell, which floods the interior with natural light and provides views to the exterior.
The restaurant is designed as an indoor-outdoor experience, making the most of a large courtyard area with seating for 65 guests.
Alessio Nardi founded A-nrd in 2015 and was joined in 2018 by long-term friend and collaborator Lukas Persakovas.
A-nrd’s previous work includes the interior of London restaurant Kol, which aims to capture an authentic sense of Mexico through its material palette and furnishings.
The photography is by Charlie McKay.
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