London-based architecture practice Red Deer has recently completed the interior design of new London Italian restaurant and cocktail bar Cattivo, located in Brixton, South London. Cattivo, which is Italian for naughty, is the late-night brother to popular all-day Italian restaurants Martello Hall in Hackney and Canova Hall, also in Brixton. Red Deer devised a design concept for Cattivo that pairs a 134 seat ground floor all-day dining café and bar with a 60 seat underground drinking den and entertainment venue for a contemporary two-in-one concept experience.
Taking residence in the old Bon Marche department store, the first purpose-built department store in the country, Red Deer used the existing Bon Marche building as an historical and local reference point. The original facade and signage were purposely retained and refurbished, with Red Deer drawing inspiration from it for the identity and branding of Cattivo.
Due to the architecture of the building, Red Deer were tasked with seamlessly designing the customer’s journey through the ground and basement levels via two staircases. As a starting point, the designers stripped the high-ceilinged open-plan space back to its core structure, keeping only the open kitchen and feature staircase.
Inside the 160 square-meter restaurant and cocktail bar fuses Italian and European mid-century sensibilities with an industrial aesthetic. The result is a warm and welcoming space with many evocative details, bespoke design elements and high quality materials blended together to offer a taste of Italian nightlife in South London.
The ground floor café-restaurant design features original brickwork and ceramic tiles with bare plastered walls, exposed ventilation pipes and stripped-back steel columns. The open kitchen with it’s adjoining bar features a striking blue corrugated steel façade with contrasting timber mouldings.
Paying careful attention to the qualities of the space, Red Deer have balanced the bustle of a busy restaurant, kitchen and bar. A mix of four high and low seating options create visual movement in the vast open-plan space. Brown leather upholstered window booths create intimate areas to gather, whilst zinc topped bar tables with wooden stools, bespoke marble café tables and chairs and large communal dining tables offer a range of views to the open kitchen. The ground floor’s feature wood paneled bar with a stainless steel top and a bespoke back bar mirror commissioned by Red Deer, add an element of glamour and an atmospheric speakeasy feel to the space.
Throughout the restaurant, Red Deer has incorporated superior interior materials alongside a mix of reclaimed, new and bespoke design. An old church reception desk and vintage service stations were sourced by Red Deer, alongside original vintage Art Nouveau prints which have been introduced across the restaurant and bar to elevate and enhance the dining experience. The colour palette of moody French blue, warm grey hues, and burnt clay tones runs throughout all aspects of the restaurant and hints at the original sites 1870s Parisian inspiration.
A considered restaurant lighting programme is comprised of both mood and technical solutions, which blend perfectly to support the entire spatial experience. Small coloured glass pendants in amber, green and blue provide soft mood lighting whilst over-sized industrial lamps provide directional lighting where needed.
Downstairs the 117m2 basement cocktail bar has an altogether more Victorian feel. Walls are clad with original glazed tiles and a traditional rich timber paneled pub style bar, complete with juxtaposed neon liquor signage, mimic the casual speakeasy vibe of the upper level bar. Red Deer have divided space and created ambient zoning with plush navy velvet curtains which can be screened to create private booths around the bespoke velvet banquettes and marble cocktail tables. A movable live music stage is an additional element of the subterranean space. In Cattivo, Red Deer present interior architecture and bespoke design in a sophisticated urban-Italia feel.