The expanding Belgo restaurant chain has provided a rich source of work for many architects and designers, including Ron Arad and Foreign Office Architects. It is also the major client for new London interiors consultancy Antarchitecture, established last year by architect Tony Sayers. Now just 12 months old, the consultancy has a string of Belgo projects under its belt, including Belgo Jersey, which opened in August, the refurbishment to the fire-damaged Belgo Centraal in London’s Covent Garden, and new and existing Bierodromes throughout London. Antarchitecture is also working for Belgo’s founders on their new chain of Schnecke restaurants serving Alsace cuisine, designing the second branch on London’s Upper Street. Sayers is happy to be working in such a specialised field. ‘I’d rather be competing as an expert in a limited field rather than competing openly with everyone else. We’re looking to quickly establish a reputation. The great thing about doing restaurants, bars and shops is that you feel like you’re contributing to the public environment,’ he says.
For the latest Schnecke, Antarchitecture toned down the jokeyness of the first restaurant, using clean, uncluttered design to counterbalance the wall scene of animals hunting humans. The 400-bottle wine rack spells out the restaurant name, also to be incorporated across the glazed restaurant front in a ‘dogmatrix’ pattern formed from the dogheads in the Schnecke logo. Sayers, formerly an associate at Tim Bushe Associates, where he first worked for Belgo, describes his design approach as modern without being purist or minimalist, enjoying mixing in a little kitsch where appropriate. With work coming up for a number of non-Belgo related clients, he is looking forward to the emergence of a more distinct Antarchitecture style as the new consultancy gets into its stride.