One Aldwych unveils exciting new restaurant Eneko at One Aldwych, with interior by award winning design firm Casson Mann.
The first restaurant project for Casson Mann, Eneko at One Aldwych offered a fascinating opportunity to develop chef Eneko Atxa’s dialogue with the dynamics of London.
A new venture between independent luxury hotel One Aldwych and Michelin starred chef Eneko Atxa, Casson Mann was asked to draw on its award winning storytelling expertise to craft an interior dialogue between Basque and London cultures.
With 3 Michelin stars for Azurmendi in Bilbao, chef Eneko Atxa is ranked 19th in the world, yet the brief for Eneko at One Aldwych was to focus on convivial enjoyment rather than formal occasions, and create a relaxed, warm and inviting space, that guests will want to make their own.
A unique coming together of Basque and London culture, Casson Mann’s team was inspired by Bruce Palling’s eloquent description of Eneko’s approach, and the phrase “allowing the ingredients to always express their core characteristics” informed the design concept. In this context, the team sought to tell the story of Eneko’s approach to contemporary Basque cuisine, as informed by his commitment to local ingredients, and passion for the heritage and traditions of the region.
The first restaurant project for Casson Mann, Eneko at One Aldwych offered a fascinating opportunity to develop Eneko’s dialogue with the dynamics of London.
Having honed their craft on the front line of visitor engagement spaces, Casson Mann’s appreciation of the relationship between sensory delight, spatial narratives, dwell time, desire lines, and immersive experiences led to this richly textured environment. “All our museum experience is about transforming stories into engaging spatial experiences”, explains founder and director Roger Mann. “This has been a similar challenge, albeit with a shift from a direct to a subtle emphasis in the way we link narrative to materials and invite emotional and functional connections”.
This narrative, Eneko’s passion for ingredients, flavours, and heritage, is never consciously communicated; it is much more about being felt. The rich sensorial influences of Basque materials and colours have led Casson Mann’s interior concept, with many bespoke elements that immerse the visitor in warmth, texture and comfort.
Dedication to authenticity and sense of place inspired the team to source materials from craftsmen in the Basque region: wood, stone and steel, colours and textures all reference the area’s history and culture. And yet, the interpretation of those regional elements within Casson Mann’s bespoke furniture and interior detail is unquestionably contemporary, reflecting the exciting partnership between Eneko and One Aldwych – a creative dialogue between Bilbao and London.
Daylight has also been a critically important element of the brief. As the venue is situated below street level, the aim was to maximise the ingress of daylight by creating opportunities for light to enhance the dining experience throughout the day.
In the pursuit of light, the interior concept required the space to be completely reconsidered. The subsequent restructuring included the demolition of an entire floor, revealing the building’s original steel frame columns. With the addition of a smaller ‘floating’ mezzanine, connected to the main entrance and downstairs restaurant by a series of floating staircases, Casson Mann’s design allows daylight to pour into the new bar and restaurant areas, creating a sense of spaciousness that transforms and modernises the venue. And the team’s vast experience of bringing light into awkward exhibition spaces delivered a clever system of hidden wall lights that augment and enhance the warmth, texture and quality of light throughout the day, reflecting changing emotional connections to the space, facilitating and inspiring moods appropriate to the dining experience.