Thursday, 24 April 2014
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The Wallace Collection: Cafe Bagatelle

Architect: Rick Mather: Lighting: Lighting Design Partnership: Interiors: Stala Antoniades at Rick Mather: Graphics and signage: Nathalie George:

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Architect Rick Mather's signature style is to bring the outdoors inside, and considering this country's climate, it makes design sense. The new 110 seat restaurant/ café is designed to complement the gallery's 18th century paintings, collected by five generations of the Wallace family.

Mather set about creating a Mediterranean-style sculpture garden, arranged around its pièce de résistance: a 19th century fountain unearthed from Chateau Bagatelle - the Parisienne country retreat of Sir Richard Wallace.

Restaurateur Stephen Bull was responsible for the café's creative direction. 'The classical ambience, menu and wine list reflect the art aspect and origins of the collection,' he says. Signs and graphics, created by Paris-based Nathalie George, also incorporate colours and motifs of the French 'Boulle' Wallace furniture pieces.

Once a dark, dank open space, the courtyard is now a sedate restaurant crowned with a dramatic glass roof. 'We wanted to create a temperate climate so people could enjoy the garden all year round,' says Rick Mather, who, along with structural engineer Ove Arup, designed a sophisticated underfloor heating system. During the summer the floor is cooling, but come winter time it heats up, so whatever the weather, Bagatelle is a safe option.

Bouche pink walls provide a sharp contrast to zinc counters. The effect is softened by beech tables and wicker chairs, produced by Spanish manufacturer Bonestil. Lighting is an essential element in creating the café's atmosphere and Lighting Design Partnership found that subtle floor lighting and spotlights hidden behind sculpture reinforced the classical style of the garden.

Architect: Rick Mather

Lighting: Lighting Design Partnership

Interiors: Stala Antoniades at Rick Mather

Graphics and signage: Nathalie George

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