The team at ifse were invited to put forward a proposal for the design and build refurbishment of the existing lower ground floor servery space at Friends House, the home of Quakers in Britain, situated in the Grade II listed building located in the bustling heart of Euston, London. The building was originally built in 1926.
As part of the competitive bid, the brief was to refurbish the existing restaurant and servery space into a flexible new restaurant and a multi-use flexible meeting environment.
At the beginning of the process, the team conducted market research to understand the local area, the community and the high-street competition around the building. Our team also observed how employees and guests operated in the building, understanding if the existing catering offer was popular or not.
Our research found that with many options of high street brands, the staff and guests of Friends House were looking for something different.
Understanding this research, the Quakers ethics and ethos, our team therefore proposed a vegan and vegetarian restaurant concept branded as ‘The Seed Kitchen’ with a fully realised visual identity connected to the restaurant design to create a destination within the existing and underutilised space. With the tag line of ‘Changing Thinking In the Kitchen’, the brand was designed around seeding new thinking in the way people eat and interact with their food.
With the development of the new ‘table service’ restaurant, our team was able to reduce the original servery size to allow for additional seating in the main Seed Kitchen thereby freeing up the additional space within the existing seating area which was located in a different room.
Within the previous seating area, our team designed a 100-seater capacity versatile meeting room that featured a ‘moveable’ wall which would separate the space in two to create two smaller multifunctional spaces to be booked out.
Our market research uncovered that ‘the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives’ and this research focused the space around communal eating. As a result, the space featured high capacity tabling to create a food-court like vibe.
The design emphasized soft seating and a relaxed environment with comfortable banquette seating lining the outer areas of the space. A mix of traditional dining chairs and soft seating was installed to ensure that all groups of diners and guests were catered for.
With the company’s desire to be 95% carbon neutral and reflecting our restaurant design, the counters and tables featured FSC approved woods, recycled materials and eco-sourced furniture.
The Seed Kitchen featured a vibrant and eye-catch ‘Living Wall’ to reflect the natural element of the brand and the new menu. The feature acted as a centerpiece to the space connecting the diner to the environment.
Grade II Listed Building
Special consideration had to be made throughout the design process due to the building’s Grade II listed status. The team, therefore, proposed a design for the space that did not alter the original fabric of the building, with features like such as the windows and the original marble and stone features remaining unaltered and cleaned thoroughly.
The build and fit-out programme were phased into two with the meeting spaces in the first phase and main restaurant in the second. As the programme began the client requested that we complete the meeting rooms early so that they could hold a board meeting in the new space. As a result of our dedicated team, we were able to speed the programme up to allow for the meeting to go-ahead.
Launching to rave reviews; the Seed Kitchen successfully launched as a new “calm oasis in the heart of London” with booking throughout the first few months.
Paul Grey, CEO of the Quiet Company said:
“There was no doubt from very early on that ifse really got the brief, they understood what we were trying to do, they understood our ethics and they understood that we didn’t just want a new facility but we wanted it to be low impact. They really worked hard at asking the right questions. And from when we first got the tender return, I was absolutely convinced that they were the right company to work with”.
Nicola Purdy, Head of Hospitality at the Quiet Company said:
“ifse were the only company who understood us as a charity. They really went to great depth and length to understand the Quakers. They really worked with us from every step of the way to make sure that this restaurant was in keeping with our values”.
The restaurant refurbishment was a complete success and as a result ifse have been named as the contractor on the kitchen refurbishment for 2020 valued at circa £450k.
We sat down with Paul Grey who detailed the design process of the prestigious refurbishment in the below video: