Che provided fine dining, a cigar room and award winning cocktail bar in the former Martins Bank at the 1960s Economist Buildings in St James’s. Fletcher Priest researched the extensive archives of Alison and Peter Smithson’s Grade 2 listed building to understand the original design and to capture this ethos in their work.
They reintroduced walnut veneer, carefully repaired the wall mosaics, and devised a new back lit ceiling in the first floor dining room to replace the long lost original which had made the space so striking in its first incarnation.
Designing a restaurant is particularly intriguing, to create an ambiance where each element of the design, interiors, graphics, and tableware contribute to create a whole, while resolving the technical challenges of installing a kitchen in a sub-basement bank vault.
They introduced classic artworks from the 1960’s,pieces by Warhol, Lichtenstein and their contemporaries, each appropriate to this innovative landmark of post-war British architecture. Soft light from the ceiling, and the acoustic baffles above, contribute to a calm quiet space, where diners can enjoy views along the bustling St James’s Street through windows adapted to maintain privacy for those inside while allowing passers-by an impression of the activities within.
At street level they designed a cocktail bar with a dramatic light installation by Martin Richman to communicate its function to passers-by, a bar which was voted the Evening Standard’s Bar of the Millennium.