In conversation with: Atelier Wren

Jake Raslan and Lorenzo Buscaroli, of interior design practice Atelier Wren, share insights into their latest hospitality project and discuss their plans for the future

When was Atelier Wren founded and where are you based? We started in 2021 and we are based right by St Pancras Station in London.

Are you going to specialise in hospitality design? Yes, we specialise in hospitality. We have worked in this industry for a long time and have been fortunate to have designed for a lot of fantastic chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers.

I am particularly interested in your House of Ming project. Were the hand-painted ceilings by Lara Fiorentino always going to be part of this scheme? We had a vision for how we wanted these to look and work. We wanted them to look artisanal and hand-painted, so we knew that we would need to have them painted. We felt the ceilings also needed to be pearlescent in order to glow when highlighted by our lighting scheme. 

We know Lara well, she also worked with us on our Saltie Girl restaurant project in North Audley Street, where she helped develop a really lovely yet subtle turquoise speckled wall finish there. 

A detail of Lara Fiorentino’s hand painted ceiling

How challenging was it to incorporate these intricate panels into the design? Lara is very talented and so developing the design with her was a doddle. We looked at Tang and Ming Dynasty artwork as references and then used Jacky Puzey’s early concept sketches as the basis of the design. That way Jacky’s bespoke embroidery on the walls would talk to Lara’s hand printed ceilings. 

The most challenging thing was making sure the canvas that Lara was using to paint on could be treated to achieve fire rating regulations, then that all these enormous canvasses could be painted in time and installed in a busy, dusty building site! Onsite, the main contractors (Phelan Construction) were fantastic at accommodating Lara and her skilful team of artists that she works with.

You have also included large embroidered silk panels by Jacky Puzey, had you worked with Jacky before? We had not, but we saw the embroidery she did at The Nomad Hotel in London and realised her style and ability would be an excellent fit for House of Ming. She did her own research into historical pieces as precedents, and so we had an excellent WhatsApp group going with her, sharing all types of musings of how they could look. 

Jacky found silks that complimented the colour scheme of the rest of the restaurant. When she started to send the samples that she had developed we knew her pieces were going to be breath-taking.

The Ming Dynasty inspired Jacky Puzey’s silk wall panels

What does beautiful craft such as the work by Lara and Jacky, bring to a hospitality project? We love the way bespoke made artwork makes a narrative that is bespoke to the space. It adds to the story and gives a very personal, human touch. 

Are you keen to champion British craft for future projects? Of course! We have a very international team working at Atelier Wren, but we all know and appreciate the abilities of artists and craftspeople that live and ply their trades here.

Could you give us a sneak peek into any exciting future projects that are in the pipeline? We have quite a few cool projects coming up, some opening before the end of the year and some starting onsite in January. Annoyingly we can’t really disclose much information about them… 

We can say that amongst them we have some interesting international projects: in Germany, one in Ireland and something in Bahrain. We are also working on a luxury health and recovery club in central London that we are really enjoying.

House of Ming dining room by Atelier Wren
Bespoke lighting adds to the luxurious atmosphere at House of Ming

Is there a dream client or a specific type of project that you would love to work on in the future? We love working with interesting and enthusiastic people. You can learn so much from clients who are experts in their field and that’s our dream type.

Massimo Bottura is a three-Michelin-star chef and a restaurateur with an altruistic perspective, so he would be cool to work with. We keep dropping that in whenever anyone asks. You never know….! Haha!

In the realm of design collaborations, are there any artists or designers with whom you aspire to partner? Our tastes are quite eclectic anyway, but we tend to try to work with artists because we think their work is right for the job. It means we are very happy to work with anyone (established or not). 

We have an interesting idea for a bar that may happen one day that would require a sculptor for example.

What is it about restaurant design that fuels your passion and creativity? It’s very engaging because of the challenges of opening on-time and within-budget. But the journey you go on with your client is also so very personal, you really care for the restaurant like a baby. 

On a day to day, restaurant design is full of communication and collaboration, passion and expression. All of the Atelier Wren team put serious thought and time into each project and so when these venues open and we get to take our friends, partners or family, there is an enormous sense of pride. 

(You might also enjoy reading about Joyce Wang’s interior for Tattu Chinese restaurant)

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