Located inside the recently developed Bomonti Historic Brewery, Kilimanjaro is a casual restaurant-bar that is an integral part of Bomontiada – the new art, culture and entertainment base of Istanbul. Designed by Autoban, the venue boasts a contemporary social environment inside a historic, industrial building, with careful attention given to its scale and original texture.
While staying true to the factory typology of the space, Autoban has also paid homage to the building’s former use by choosing materials that are relevant to the times while it was still an active production plant – a time when artisan tradition played a collective part within industrial production. Such choice of materials and artisan detailing were also helpful in softening the severity of the industrial atmosphere.
Inside Kilimanjaro, the two main functions – dining area and bar – are arranged as close as possible, almost touching one another at some points, to encourage social interaction and result in an intimate, cozy setting.
With its structural form and massive volume, the curvaceous bar placed at the centre, almost in the manner of an art installation, is the focal point of Kilimanjaro, where dining room seating is organized around it. Exhibiting its load-bearing functions and structural skeleton, the metalwork travelling the entire bar on top allows plenty of room for display, and it is decked out with leafy plants to help break the cold, industrial atmosphere. Due to its relationship with the overall spatial experience, the bar is perceived as a space-within-space, also creating zones for both solitude and gathering within its amorphous form.
London-based restaurateur Alan Yau’s new Soho restaurant, Babaji applies a contemporary global perspective to traditional Turkish recipes to create an exciting new dining experience. As with Yau’s approach to the menu, Autoban’s design concept for the eatery is inspired by traditional Turkish design, and the materials that have been used within the restaurant showcase Turkey’s artisan culture and almost forgotten craft techniques.
Housed within a late 19th Century historic brick building, the exterior of Babaji is kept simple, blending in with the building façade as well as its lively Soho surroundings. A dominant feature of Babaji’s interior is vivid blue ceramic tiles designed and manufactured by Autoban to cover the entire interior space. The handmade tiles reflect both Turkish style and the dynamism of London’s Soho neighbourhood through their application onto the walls. Traditional Turkish Iznik tiles are also incorporated into the tiled surface, and Iznik patterns are used on soft furnishings.
Autoban designed much of the furniture exclusively for Babaji, with some additional signature pieces from the studio’s existing furniture collection. Although the furniture has a sense of simplicity there is also a richness and attention to detail in each piece, such as the inlaid brass detailing in the wood banquette seating and tabletops. Brass inlays are found in traditional Turkish culture, and Autoban has applied a contemporary dotted design to the Babaji pieces. These inlaid brass patterns have been placed on the back of the banquettes, making this striking design feature visible from the outside of the restaurant.
In creating the cutting-edge design concept for Nopa, a grill restaurant-bar in Istanbul, Autoban have applied their signature aesthetic by maintaining a unity in architecture, interior and product design as well as engaging indoor and outdoor areas.
Housed on the ground floor of a recently built apartment (also built by Autoban), and opening to a back garden, Nopa is mainly formed by two separate areas (indoor and outdoor) that sit on a long and narrow layout plan. The main concern for the interior has been to stay true to the distinct rectangular shape of the space while enriching it with the use of diverse textural materials in layers. All secondary functions (such as wine storage and liquor bottle shelves behind the bar counter) are embedded into walls to maintain a continuous vertical surface level and a certain form of unity. The building’s front façade features an organized geometrical composition applied in varying layers, which is successfully incorporated also to the interior.
While the indoor vertical surfaces feature varying materials with different functions - black marble and back-lit niches with plate glass covers – these idle and filled up surfaces come together to form a certain richness and break the monotony.
Designed to be an extension of the interior, the outdoor area follows the same design approach with layers of greenery that both bring diversity to the space and highlight the perception of being outdoors. It is a surrounding vertical garden, with a wall waterfall on one side providing a peaceful background sound for diners, and comes out as one of the most significant design element of the project.
A concept by the renowned restaurateur Alan Yau, Duck + Rice is a pub with a Chinese kitchen that sits on two levels in London’s Soho. Using a multi-layered approach, Autoban has created a contemporary design that pays homage to the densely decorated Victorian pubs beloved by Londoners while also incorporating carefully composed and reinterpreted Asian influences.
From the glass façade of the exterior to the metal screens dividing diners into cozy booths inside the space, Autoban incorporated abstracted geometric patterns throughout the space. A mix of opaque and transparent glass divided by aluminum strips creates a modern stained glass effect, which results in a play between inside and outside and lends a richly layered, dynamic surface to the exterior. Inside the restaurant, oversized white tiles with striking blue floral motifs cover the walls and are repeated in sections of the ceiling.
Specially-designed and produced by Autoban for The Duck + Rice, the tiles reference China’s renowned pottery traditions and pay tribute to the iconic blue and white porcelain glaze first used during the Tang Dynasty. The technique of mixing cobalt oxide with water to create this vibrant blue hue is the same technique also used to create traditional Turkish İznik tiles, which are further highlighted and backlit by custom aged brass wall lights with a half chrome bulb.
The ground floor is the pub where four glowing copper beer tanks greet visitors at the entrance, referencing the space’s former use as a traditional British pub and show the restaurant’s emphasis on quality lagers, ales and ciders sourced from traditional brewers. The long, marble bar and a mix of high top tables and low seating with a fireplace and booths are warmed by freestanding wood burning stoves.
Occupying an early 20th century building in the heart of Karaköy, the burgeoning epicenter for the city’s contemporary art and social scene, Gaspar is a two-storey gastro-bar and lounge rolled into one. Proposed by Autoban, the redesign of the property, originally erected to function as a letterpress-printing house, saw a creative and engaging transformation while restoring the building’s original grandeur.
While the exterior is brought to its former glory by fully revealing the original stone façade and reinstalling arched window frames made of iron, the interior design concept of Gaspar is based on 'Cabinet of Curiosities' - an idea flourished in Renaissance Europe during the 16th century. The term describes a collection of types of objects whose categorical boundaries are yet to be defined. As a method of organization, the collected objects are arranged by 'knolling', basically the process of arranging objects in parallel or at 90-degree angles on surfaces.
At Gaspar, overlapping plywood panels, produced in different shades and sizes, and positioned at various levels in a mathematical order, create a second shell in the form of a wooden cube that is placed inside the building. Covering the interior vertically and horizontally, the plywood surfaces create a sense of randomness as well as depth, a perception amplified by the high ceilings.
Frescobaldi Ristorante is an Italian restaurant in London designed by Autoban. Approaching each project as storytellers, the studio followed an inductive method in creating the interior design concept of the restaurant, fusing various components associated with the project in contemporary harmony. Since the restaurant is co-owned by the Italian family Frescobaldi who are rooted in wine business, the family’s firm relationship with wine culture and Tuscany heritage played a key role in the overall design.
Imagining the space as the private dining room of the family, Autoban carried the Frescobaldi DNA all throughout the two-storied restaurant, with strong references to the history of the family and wine culture in general. All these key references are deciphered in a contemporary way - Autoban kept in mind that the restaurant is based in London, the world’s current capital of culinary culture - without diminishing the warmth of Italian hospitality.
There are hints of Italian culinary culture everywhere - from the layered ceramic tiles and wooden panels that form the surrounding interior shell of the restaurant, to the hand-painted drawings on the ceramic tiles depicting stories related to wine culture in Italy. Walls are also lined with framed pictures, all of which fuse the joyous spirit of Italian food culture into the space.
Flamingo is located inside Inter Continental Hotel, which was the Sheraton until 1995. The hotel was built in the 1960s and at the time both architecturally and lifestyle-wise it marked a turning point for the history of Taksim and Istanbul in general. During 80s and 90s, Sheraton was one of the most important meeting points in the city for the well-heeled community.
With the knowledge and motivation of this historical fact about the space, Autoban focused on creating again a lively meeting point for the city. The restaurant focused on Mediterranean cuisine as the right choice, since the cuisine is mostly associated with people gathering and sharing food in a joyful manner.
Da Mario is an established Italian restaurant that has pioneered the Italian culinary culture in Istanbul since 1993. In 2014, the owners opened a second location on the Asian side of Istanbul, and commissioned Autoban to design the interiors.
With its enviable location across the marina, the restaurant is a soaring space with plenty of Mediterranean influences, boasting period setting in a contemporary, cosmopolitan environment.
In creating the interiors for Da Mario Kalamış, Autoban took inspiration from the grand Italian villas, particularly Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan, and brought in a brand new perspective to the traditional Italian style dining. Featuring a palette of natural materials such as marble, wood and metal, all of which are used in layers, the true value of craftsmanship is generously exhibited all throughout the space, from the iron frameworks to the plate glass windows, leather covered bar top and custom-designed solid wood door handles.
HONG KONG, 2010
208 Duecento Otto is a buzzing neighbourhood restaurant and bar in Hong Kong that is inspired by Italy’s culinary tradition. Located on the city's art and antiquing Hollywood Road in the up-and-coming Sheung Wan district, the concept is the creation of Yenn Wong, founder of JIA Boutique Hotels. The project is Autoban’s first overseas commission.
Located in a former meat-storage warehouse that is surrounded by antique shops and art galleries, 208 Duecento Otto serves a New york-style Italian menu with a focus on authenticity. This unlikely culinary fusion, as well as the geographical influences, have formed the basis of Autoban’s layered work inside the restaurant.
The interiors feature a deep layering of patterns, starting with the tiled walls. The blue-and-white, custom-designed and handcrafted tiles depict a story the designers found in an old Chinese book. Along with the tiled surfaces, natural and raw materials are featured throughout the space such as steel pillars, marble tabletops and solid walnut floors and ceiling.
The two-storied restaurant features a bar and two separate areas for al-fresco dining on the ground floor, one of which is private dining room walled with wines. There is additional seating on the upper floor, and a metal staircase connects both floors, which seat 90 guests in total.
Set in a historic wooden waterside mansion in Ortaköy, Anjélique is one of the oldest nightclubs in Istanbul, On three floors, with an outdoor terrace, the venue offers eating, drinking and dancing with a different menu and musical style on each floor amidst outstanding Bosphorus views.
Autoban first designed Anjélique’s interior in 2009, changing its layout significantly and in 2011, the practice redesigned the space for the club’s transformation from a summer-only venue into a year-round destination.
The interiors feature a mash up of patterns and layering, overlapping with the centripetal symmetry of the architectural shell. Augmented with geometric forms that cover the rooms in various tones of beige, these textural surfaces were specifically incorporated to the design to create the ideal environment that would look good under dining-room lights and feel tactile in the darkness of the dance floor.
Autoban has been working with the House Café Group since 2005. The Group was founded in 2002 with the opening of their first branch located inside an old Nişantaşı apartment flat. It became so popular that in 2005 a second branch in Tünel was launched, followed by many others. Today, an established café chain, The House Café operates several branches in Istanbul and elsewhere, all of which are designed by Autoban.
Through their work for the House Café, the studio have shaped the city’s café culture by dividing the cafes into rooms that suggest a domestic arrangement and encourage guests to come together around a communal table.
Opened in 2010, Münferit is a fine-dining restaurant that brings a modern take on the traditional Turkish meyhane. The chef-owner Ferit Sarper’s family also produces Beylerbeyi rakı at its distillery in western Turkey.
Inside Münferit, Autoban’s design translates the story of a time-honored culinary culture into a cosmopolitan restaurant of entirely contemporary tone, while maintaining the warm and inviting spirit of meyhanes. Blending in a variety of rich materials, the studio showcases their signature layered and textural work through the rosewood Art Deco panelling, pressed metal ceiling panels, chocolate-coloured glossy wall tiles, mirrors and tiled floors, which offset the custom-designed solid wood furniture and marble tabletops used all throughout.
Spreading two floors, the upper ground floor of Münferit hosts the bar and lounge area alongside a mews-like terrace, which becomes more popular than ever on warmer days.
Located in the burgeoning neighbourhood of Karaköy and popular with locals and tourists alike, Karaköy Lokantası is a modern spin on the traditional Turkish restaurant with interiors designed by Autoban.
With this commission, the studio opted to create a strong and contemporary identity for the 21st-century adaptations of traditional Turkish restaurants. To find a coherent language with which to depict it, the designers revisited the city’s landmark Turkish restaurant Pandeli over the Spice Market for reference, and finally settled on tiles, patterns, and craftsmanship as their key ingredients. Pandeli’s glazed turquoise wall tiles became a historical point of reference for the Karaköy Lokantası.
While the turquoise tiles become the most significant elements of the two-storey restaurant’s interiors, the space also features custom-made brass lights, mosaic floors and marble detailing. At the center of the street-level dining room, a narrow, cast-iron staircase spirals upward to connect it to a dining room upstairs.
Serving traditional seafood since 1967, Tres Encinas is a landmark restaurant in downtown Madrid, at a location that particularly exemplifies the deep socio-cultural richness of the city.
When Autoban was commissioned to redesign and refurbish the restaurant’s interiors, the designers opted for the space to reflect this unique quality of Madrid in a contemporary tone, while adhering to the Arts & Crafts tenet of staying true to local materials. This approach was predicated through generous use of materials such as wood, glass, metal and custom-printed glazed ceramic tiles in four types, whose arrangement and combinations narrate four different tales of fishermen and life on the sea all throughout the restaurant.
The floor, as well as the ceiling above the bar, is covered with classic wood parquet, a soft trompe l’oeil forming flat cubes that appear three- dimensional. The ceiling above the dining room features bespoke metalwork, which demonstrates a strong Art Nouveau influence. As vertical graphical elements, the surfaces of the grand French doors connecting the main dining rooms are decorated with largely horizontal patterns, underlining the relationship between the materials, metal and glass. An iron staircase connects all levels (two floors + mezzanine) of the restaurant, and the pattern on its banisters echo the pattern of the façade’s balcony railings hinting at a notional union of interior and exterior.
Housed in the Sakıp Sabancı Museum overlooking the Bosphorus, MüzedeChanga is the sister branch of the city’s premier fusion restaurant Changa. The venue caters for the museum visitors during the day and turns into a fine-dining restaurant by night. Overseen by the award-winning chef Peter Gordon, the kitchen delivers Mediterranean cuisine reinterpreted with a global accent.
As the client brief included the space to evoke their childhood homes in the 1960s and 70s by featuring wood as the protagonist of the punch list, Autoban made lavish use of solid oak all throughout the bi-level interior.
Separated from its 270-sqm terrace with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, one of the biggest challenges of the restaurant’s interior was the lack of walls. The designers resolved this by turning the one wall that was not made of glass into a mirror, visually deepening the space while creating a canvas of its reflected surroundings.
The voluptuous, ship-shaped, solid- oak bar—which was, indeed, modeled after a ship—and an eight-meter marble table with a laser-cut iron base are the focal points of the interior and terrace. Another signature element of the restaurant is the partition that separates the entrance from the museum. The radiating forms of the screen are derived from a traditional Turkish pattern that Autoban further abstracted. The screen provides a veil that is simultaneously soft and angular, permeable and strong—which makes it a perfect synopsis of what lies beyond.
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