CIRCULAR DESIGN FOR A CIRCULAR RESTAURANT
With Apricity's focus on low-waste cooking and sustainable food sourcing, it's important that our interior design doesn't just look good, but reflects our values too.
Object. Place. Space design sustainable interiors for hospitality spaces that care about the planet. So naturally, we were very excited that Director and interior architect David Chenery agreed to create an interior design for Apricity that would help us achieve our zero-waste goals.
Restaurant fitouts have the potential to create a lot of waste, with the average lifespan of a design currently standing at just 5 years, according to David. So, the team at Object. Place. Space. have pioneered the Restorative Design Framework based on the principles of a circular economy. The framework aims to design out waste and pollution on their projects, keeping natural resources in use and minimising the carbon footprint of restaurants. Using this approach to our fitout at Apricity has resulted in a 40% decrease in emissions compared to a standard restaurant fitout.
The Restorative Design Framework explained
“The aim is to remove the idea of ‘waste’ from new fitouts and ensure that designs are created so that all elements can be reused at the end of their lifecycle.”
David used this Framework to create a sustainable restaurant design for Apricity by:
Reusing, donating, or recycling everything we could from the existing space
Creating an adaptable, low-impact design that celebrated the existing space and included minimal new items, all of which could be sourced sustainably
Designing everything so it can be taken apart, re-used, donated, or recycled at the end of its life, reducing waste from the start
A sustainable restaurant design for Apricity
We’re so happy with the results. The design feels entirely ‘us’ and we don’t anticipate having to change anything for a long, long time. And if and when we do, we’re confident that each element can be removed, reused and upcycled without causing unnecessary waste. Which brings us even closer to our dream of a zero-waste restaurant, both in the kitchen and out.
Read on to see how David’s applied his philosophy of retaining as much of the existing site as possible, reusing materials and sourcing sustainably where necessary.
Embracing the beauty of exposed walls
We’ve completely exposed the main walls on the ground floor, simply cleaning them off and applying a seal. By celebrating all their marks and imperfections as part of the design, we haven’t had to use non-recyclable building materials to cover them up. Wherever we’ve had to fill in holes, we’ve used a natural lime plaster to allow the walls to breathe.
To contrast with these existing finishes, we’ve introduced a beautiful and natural clay plaster from Clayworks, which fades from dark to light pink, warming the space. This plaster is free of harmful chemicals and is made in Cornwall from abundant raw materials.
Recycling the floors & stairs
On the ground floor, we’ve simply sanded the original timber floorboards to bring back their natural warm colour rather than add an extra layer of material on top. As we had to move the existing staircase to make the basement floor plan work, we made a new staircase from oak sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests that are managed to ensure sustainability and biodiversity, and we used the treads we reclaimed from the original stairs.
In the bar area, the floor tiles are made from over 70% recycled content. And in the basement dining areas, we’ve installed porcelain tiles containing over 40% recycled content. In the kitchen, instead of the industry-standard vinyl floor we’ve installed a rubber safety floor that does the same job but without containing any harmful PVC plastic.
Diverting items from landfill to new life
Each of our restaurant chairs is made from 111 recycled Coca-Cola bottles, stopping these harmful PET bottles from potentially arriving in landfill, or worse the sea. Even better, we rescued the chairs from another restaurant that had to close, making sure that the plastic didn’t in fact make its way into landfill after all.
The tables in our main restaurant came from the same venue. They were in such good condition that our team simply sanded and sealed them, saving them from landfill and giving them a new lease of life.
The chairs for our Chefs’ Table were reclaimed, then recovered by a small, family-run upholsterer in leather sourced from Crest Leather, a company that produces leather with minimal environmental impact while also looking after their employees.
And in the bathrooms, Chantelle sourced each second-hand sink online, saving every one from being prematurely resigned to landfill, and creating a characterful look with different, individual sinks rather than having identical new ones made.
Salvaged staircase turned into feature wall of art
The wood cladding decorating the outer walls of the ground floor accessible toilet is a labour of love. The timber we used to make up this bespoke finish was all salvaged from the original staircase.
As the previous staircase had obviously been built to fit that space, much of the odd-shaped pieces of timber couldn’t be reused for other furniture. But rather than waste the wood, we created a completely unique cladding design for this internal wall by cutting and fitting irregular offcut shapes to make something beautiful and eye-catching. It was like a game of Tetris, only more fun!
Turning skirting boards into bar fronts
We salvaged some timber mouldings from the previous skirting boards and recycled them to make the bar fronts. Where we didn’t have enough, we mixed in new timber mouldings to complete the design, paying homage to the old space.
Natural materials yet still practical
Around the waiter and greet stations, we’ve introduced sustainable and ethical materials such as cork and timber terrazzo (called Foresso) to areas that needed a smooth finish for easy cleaning.
Lighting the way in reducing food waste
Our wonderful hanging lights are made from cut oyster shells, making something beautiful from potential food waste products. The lamp shades over the Chefs’ Table are made from recycled coffee grounds. No two shades are the same as they’re left to settle in their own way once mixed with the bonding agent, creating unique and eye-catching shapes.
No more ‘fresh paint’ smell
Even the paint has been selected for its sustainable credentials. Made by Graphenestone, it comes from the Grafclean range. It’s completely VOC-free, so no nasty chemicals will make their way into the dining room or into the food. And because it’s washable, we won’t have to repaint as often - reducing our longer-term consumption.
Low-waste printing for a low-waste menu
We want the freedom to change our menu frequently with the availability of seasonable produce, but it’s important to us that printing new menus doesn’t create waste. So, we provide a QR code on each table which takes diners to the current menu online instead of reprinting every day.
Images by Ben Carpenter