Suvlaki is a restaurant that brings authentic, traditionally cooked Greek souvlaki – a time honored, everyday staple of the Greek diet – to the heart of London’s Soho. Designed by AfroditiKrassa, it features a category-defining interior and brand design that reinvents Greek food and restaurant design, stands out and creates presence in a very competitive and busy locale.
The design concept was largely inspired by Athens’ rich urban environment: the concrete mess of the architecture, the classical beauty of the marbles and the edgy youth and street culture all living side by side. AfroditiKrassa wanted to bring this to London, as a way to discover this unexplored city, which is both ancient and contemporary, raw, witty and idiosyncratic. It is in Athens where you would discover this fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurants, where you can find an old man grilling the best souvlaki ever. This became the designers’ inspiration.
As far as the branding is concerned, under the concept of ‘Takeover’, AfroditiKrassa marries the old with the new, and the rough with the sleek, taking iconic Greek references and subverting them. Athens’ notorious, satirical street-art and graffiti has provided with the inspiration of the brand’s design in order to communicate the democratic and humble nature of the menu, as well as represent a real, contemporary and urban side of Greece that is somehow far removed from the touristic clichés of international Greek eateries.
The interior design is based on a very strict palette of blues; dozens of shades of blue have been used throughout the scheme in a myriad of rich textures, finishes and patterns. The result is dark and classic; resourceful and understated. The feature grill has been positioned prominently to the shopfront to create theatre and showcase the high quality of ingredients and specialist grilling. The studio’s AKollection Pentagon Pendant lamps create a warm and bold feature above the long line of tables placed centrally in this intimate space. The restaurant main wall is clad in vintage, fluted terazzo column sections. Weighting over 1.5 tonnes and having being salvaged from an old hotel, this unique element provides with a memorable and elegantly tactile touchpoint.
The interior design of Suvlaki is the result of an equal mix of intention, serendipity and re-use. AfroditiKrassa drew inspiration from Athens’ long and chequered past and referred to archetypical Greek symbols and icons that are recognizable the world over: the color blue, marble, street graffiti, old coffee shops, the unusual language, the sound of the Greek church. The designers tried to retain as much of the original elements of the space and left the walls unfinished, almost raw; they didn’t want it to feel too perfect.
At a very difficult time in Greece’s long history, this is a restaurant that stands out. Its unmistakable Greek identity is unapologetic and bold; Suvlaki confidently challenges the stereotypes and sets a new standard amongst the latest tide of Greek restaurants opening in London.
The tiny 35-seater restaurant is buzzing with energy and pace, show-off grilling and memorable features. Suvlaki proves that considerate spatial planning and design can achieve grand results; perhaps even that small is beautiful.