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Meet the Designers: III

This week, for part three of our Meet the Designer series, we met up with Casson Mann, the prestigious design firm who created our restaurant Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar in 2016. 

The restaurant design required a complete review of a challenging space – the lower level of the hotel which had no natural light. 
 
Roger Mann, founder and director of Casson Mann, explains how he tackled the challenge. 
 
Casson Mann, founded by Dinah Casson and Roger Mann, has made an international name for itself creating exhibition designs across the globe, including the new Cité du Vin (Bordeaux), International Centre for Cave Art (Lascaux) and the Benjamin Franklin Museum (Phildadelphia). The firm works on different areas of museum design from permanent galleries to temporary and touring exhibitions, as well as interior design and architecture. It has a close affinity to their home city of London, and has created exhibition spaces for Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Imperial War Museum.  
 
“All our museum experience is about transforming stories into engaging spatial experiences,” Mann explained. Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar was its first restaurant project. “It has been a similar challenge to exhibition design, with a subtle emphasis in the way we link narrative to materials.”  
 
“We set out to craft an interior design concept that reflected chef Eneko Atxa’s vision, values and passion for heritage, traditions and culture,” Mann says. 
 
His palette of textures and materials used in Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar echoes chef Eneko Atxa’s Basque heritage. But unlike his impressive three Michelin star Azurmendi restaurant in Bilbao, his London restaurant is all about convivial enjoyment, in a relaxed, warm and inviting space.

A striking polished copper staircase connects the light-filled entrance from The Strand with the floating mezzanine bar area. This involved removing an entire floor allowing daylight to pour into the space, and revealing the building’s original steel-frame columns dating from 1907 when it was the home of the Morning Post newspaper.

Downstairs the restaurant showcases rich textures such as tables made from local Basque chestnut (specially created by Arkaia) banded stone tiles and scalloped black Mediterranean pine walls.  Concealed lighting give diners the impression of being surrounded by natural light. Nine comfortable banquettes in deep chilli pepper red leather frame the dining area. 
 
“The choice of materials, colour, lighting and the harder-to-define factors, such as acoustics and the way daylight penetrates the lower level, is enormously rewarding to observe that we got it right,” he says.
 
The reward is tangible in fact, as Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar won “Best Restaurant in a Hotel” in the Restaurant and Bar Awards 2017
 
We look forward to welcoming you to experience Casson Mann’s magnificent design later this spring when Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar reopens following the exciting refurbishment of One Aldwych
 
Take a look for yourself here or why not read more about Casson Mann.

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