Through the work of their London design studio Sella Concept, Gayle Noonan and Tatjana von Stein have become known for creating interiors, installations and branding concepts with dreamy colour palettes at their heart. Their clients, such as Instagram, Netflix and Google, have been steered towards peachy pinks over corporate reds. But it’s in new Mediterranean restaurant Omar’s in Pimlico – a space defined by various shades of pinks and teals – that their ability to create escapism in a room has really become obvious. We asked them to tell us more about their creative process, how they approach colour and how they work together…
You’ve said the sun inspired your recent project Omar’s, can you explain more about how this shaped the design?
Gayle: “Omar’s Mediterranean menu and Egyptian background immediately pointed us in the direction of the sun as a central symbol of inspiration. The colours, forms and textures are all closely linked to this and are woven through the restaurant concept. The sun-scorched walls of the Mediterranean villages inspired the textured interior walls. The spherical form of the sun encouraged the curved bar, round-edged walls and scalloped wooden slats. This geometric format is carried through to the custom designed metal / mirror wall art.”
Where did you begin on working up the palette?
Tatjiana: “We looked at the influence the sun had on architecture, food, vegetation and art. We took inspiration from Spanish artist Joan Miro’s bold, colourful abstract works who were also inspired by the Spanish sun. His graphic, playful use of colour left us with a wealth of material to run with.”
The restaurant seems texturally interesting as well as colourfully so. Was this part of the intention?
G: “Absolutely, the food is insanely indulgent and steeped in the history of Chef’s Majorca-born Michelin star chef Vicente Fortea. We talked through his menu concept and identified the layers of symbolism within. We were inspired to use our discipline to allow material textures to surface just as Vicente had done with his menu and ingredients.”
Which projects are you working on now?
T: “Currently we are working on another restaurant in Balham called Pirana, opening in July. It’s been a very cool project to work on as we have created something incredibly different to Omar’s Place. We are also involved in another bar / restaurant / club project in the arches in Hackney due to open this summer also. We’re working on a set design and build for Instagram in Cologne and lastly Uniqlo is opening a roof terrace that we’re currently designing for build.”
What colours do you like to live with in your own homes – and does this change much or do you have ongoing favourites?!
G: “We are blessed with double height floor-to-ceiling windows in our house so at any opportunity we try to capitalise on this. We have filled the space with very tall plants and they immediately dictated the scene. A lot of natural materials like cane, wood, tan leather and wool are woven together with a braver, bolder family of materials such as brass, velvet, corten with a splash of hyper blue paint to amplify terracotta planters. We travel a lot and are constantly inspired by different cultures so we have achieved quite an eclectic mix of objects and furniture.”
When you work on a project do you fall into distinct roles or is it quite blurred?
G: “Honestly, I wouldn’t dare to have even hoped for a more perfect balance. Tatjana approaches every project with buckets of optimism and possibility. She’s so fluid in her ideas and how she designs. I love the boldness and brevity of her approach. There’s a fire in her belly that ignites at the beginning of a project that injects so much creative potential while I sit back practically paralyzed by the endless options that are nowhere near resolution.”
T: “Thankfully Gayle’s six year rigorous art degree means she agonizes over every detail and proposition until it’s fully resolved – while I have the luxury of indulging in a thought process of creating something without the restraints of having to work out all the moving parts and whether they could even ever sit together!! I am in awe every day of Gayle’s talents and approach. it’s meticulous and I sit watching her hours on end moving every micro mm while her hair slowly curls as the rate of concentration increases and levels out at an extreme frizz!”
G: “The process is a perfect balance…Tatjana goes macro, ‘Lets build everything out of mirrors, make it spherical and at least 10 meters in diameter’. I go micro, ‘Lets make a tiny, perfectly smooth, oblong-shaped hole on the surface.'”
Is there a type of project or even person you haven’t worked for (or with) yet that you’d love to – what is the dream brief?
T: “We cannot wait to get our hands on more design projects that will allow us to exercise, explore and showcase our design skills further. We strongly believe in the overlap of the retail and hospitality industries and are often asked to activate spaces with new ideas to create a culture and add value to the real estate. We therefore can’t help having the ambition to have our own commercial space that brings Sella Concept design to life, through the curation of experiences, products and a community of designers and creatives.”