Location: Richmond, then more branches in the UK
Brief: To create a new generation pizzeria without losing the key values of this much-loved brand. Offering a balance of innovation, intimacy and energy, leaving customers – both adults and children – feeling happy and nurtured.
Through our re-design of Pizza Express, Richmond we wanted to recapture some of the bohemian Italian magic of the original Soho restaurant, marrying tradition with innovation to deliver delicious authentic pizza in an energetic, exciting contemporary environment.
Key to our design response was a desire to place the kitchen back at the heart of the experience, moving its location from the rear of the restaurant site to the centre, and orientating seating, display, storage, bar, till etc. around it to create a built-in audience for the pizzaiolo’s. To ensure their displays didn’t disappoint we removed the ceiling tiles, allowing them to throw their dough high in the air, and suspended convex mirrored discs above their workstations to reflect the drama of the action back down into the restaurant.
A single piece of red fibre-glass formed a continuous ribbon around the restaurant space, containing seating booths, display counters, till and kids area. Each intimate booth was topped with a parabolic dome designed to isolate the acoustics of the individual table. Built-in controls at the tables allowed diners to fully customize their environments, play their own audio media through integrated speakers, select their preferred lighting levels and call for the bill at the touch of a button. Additional suspended acoustic panels across the general seating created further visual and acoustic breaks.
To generate activity and constant customer flow throughout the day, expanding the restaurants offer and customer base, we established a programme of kid’s activities across the restaurant, including stealth learning games and a large communal drawing table integrated into the dining area.
In celebration of the freshness and authenticity of Pizza Express ingredients we introduced an array of tempting food displays and, inspired by the food stalls of Naples, punched a kiosk through to the street, allowing passersby to grab food and drink on the move. To further explore the brand’s heritage and create an atmosphere of playfulness, immersive soundscapes of Naples city-life played in the bathrooms.
As part of the initial brief it was agreed the most popular and successful elements from this first site would be rolled out nationally. ARD designed a further three sites at Brent cross, Fulham and Nottingham with key elements going on to be rolled out further across the brand’s holdings.