Zizzi draws up redesign plans with young illustrators

Restaurant chain Zizzi is redesigning its 101 UK outlets to reflect their locations, with the help of new and emerging illustrators.

Artists Lizzie Mary Cullen, Matthew Kavan Brooks and Camille Rousseau, who previously worked on London’s Charlotte Street branch, will be among those applying illustrations directly to walls and fittings in response to briefs set by Zizzi head of design Pia Fairhurst.

Fairhurst, who is considering recruiting more illustrators after Christmas for the six-year refurbishment project, says, ‘We are working with graduates or illustrators with one or two years’ experience, which fits with our consumer profile, 40 per cent of whom are under 25.’

The restaurants will all share a signature open-kitchen design, but the lighting and colour palettes will vary from outlet to outlet, ‘inspired by local themes and history’, according to Fairhurst.

Fairhurst says she is the creative force behind the new restaurant design concept, but is working with Brown Architecture Studio and Dover Design to apply it. The two consultancies are also helping to create briefs for the illustrators by researching the history and character of the restaurant’s local areas.

Dover Design is working on a new restaurant at Didsbury, opening in the autumn. ‘The group has interesting ideas on the old Didsbury Dozen pubs – and our restaurant is in one of the former pubs,’ says Fairhurst. ‘Also, Didsbury is where the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was founded, which is informing the choice of light fittings by Ingo Maurer.’

Central St Martins College of Art and Design’s Rousseau is illustrating the new Winchester branch, which was home to the Hampshire Chronicle until 1972. ‘We are putting old copies of the newspaper on the walls and are using old printers’ tables and chests and an antique typewriter to reflect the building’s heritage,’ says Fairhurst. The outlet will also feature a Moooi Horse lamp, referencing Winchester’s Elizabeth Frink equine statue Horse and Rider.

Rousseau is also working on Zizzi’s Canary Wharf outlet, ‘drawing straight on to huge, 150cm-tall light fittings that look like big paper bags,’ says Fairhurst. The restaurant will be closed for ten days in September to apply the new design and illustrations.

The new design concept will also be applied to ten outlets which were redesigned just two years ago by Buckley Gray Yeoman.

‘The architect took it in the wrong direction,’ says Fairhurst. ‘It created a really minimal and slick look that failed to differentiate Zizzi from any other casual dining restaurant chain.’

The interiors and branding were initially trialled in St Albans before rolling out to the other outlets. ‘The look just didn’t capture the character of our audience, so we reexamined our market to see how we could make ourselves feel different,’ says Fairhurst.

Over the past eight months, she has overseen the redesign of the staff uniforms, redesigned the table settings and sourced new crockery and glassware for the restaurants. The changes were applied on Monday at all 101 outlets.


  • Camille Rousseau is currently working on Canary Wharf, Winchester, Chiswick and Wigmore Street restaurants
  • Matthew Kavan Brooks is working on Notting Hill Gate and Paddington Street outlets
  • Lizzie Mary Cullen is working on the Marlow and Brighton branches. At Brighton, she is collaborating with photographer Moose Azim
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  • Louisa Pacifico November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I know Matthew Kavan & Lizzie Cullen well and i can’t think of two better designers to work on this project. Both designers are exceptionally talented and ones to watch for the future. Well done to the both of you!

  • Ryan Dixon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Having worked with both Pia and Camille recently I can say that this style is refreshing for both the restaurants and the creative industry. That’s to say that it’s a much needed injection of ‘craft’ and good old fashioned skill.

    The emotive style of the illustration is a wonderfully informal way of telling a story and is incredibly engaging…

    The design industry is crying out for this kind of work, so well done all.

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