Restaurant takes legal advice over ‘rip-off’

A London restaurant group has called in its lawyers after accusing a Manchester restaurant of “blatant plagiarism” of its design.

Laurence Isaacson, deputy chairman of Groupe Chez Gérard, is consulting lawyers about the design of the Citrus restaurant.

He claims it is “a perfect rip-off” of Soho Soho, a restaurant in his group designed by London consultancy Virgile & Stone which opened in 1991.

Citrus was partially designed by Richard Chadwick Associates and architect Michael Sassoon for owner Jonathan Steinberg.

“Our initial presentation was not like this at all, but our client started using Soho Soho as his reference and saying ‘do it like that’,” says the Manchester group’s managing director Richard Chadwick.

Chadwick claims his consultancy’s role then dwindled to technical details: “We couldn’t copy another designer’s work so Steinberg designed it himself. It was a lost opportunity for us.”

Isaacson claims that Citrus is “a rip-off from the detailing of the chairs to the mural. It’s not just taking elements, it’s taking a whole design,” he says. Both restaurants feature murals of dancing figures. Virgile & Stone is unwilling to comment.

“There’s no specific copyright provision for interior design,” comments Rachel Duffield, chief executive of the Design and Artist’s Copyright Society.

Steinberg denies asking Richard Chadwick Associates to copy Soho Soho, and disagrees that it’s a copy: “The design evolved from [Chadwick’s] work and was taken further by myself and architect Michael Sassoon Associates.”

He adds: “Every design takes influence from others, it would be very difficult for a designer to come up with a new concept. Citrus is different in every way from Soho Soho”.

Latest articles