Kricket is the brainchild of chef Will Bowlby and front of house Rik Campbell. Their tiny and much talked about first eaterie, was squeezed into a shipping container within 'Brixton Pop'. Which set tongues a chattering. A major F&B investor spotted their unique talents and helped fund the opening of their second venue - a full service two-storey restaurant in W1.
THE BRIEF: DESIGN KRICKET V2.0
Kricket Soho is the pair's brand new restaurant in the heart of Soho on Denman Street. Continuing to specialise in modern and accessible Indian plates, made with the best British seasonal ingredients available. And we were delighted to be appointed to design Kricket Brixton's Big Brother, beating off stiff competition from major Central London F&B design firms. The site has space for 70 diners and is laid out across two floors. An open kitchen and counter dining reserved for walk-ins dominates as you enter. Kricket's first bricks and mortar venue launched just before Christmas and was immediately mobbed by walk-in queues of up to 3 hours. Pre-marketing had secured thousands of sign-ups and even their investor couldn't get a table on his first trip.
OUR CREATIVE APPROACH
Taking inspiration from the vibrant scenes characterising life in India, we wanted the space to have a playful but intimate feel to it. And to be subtle and original in our Indian inspired detailing. The Clients are young, cool and British, so the design needed to reflect their youth and not fall into cliche. So all of our Indian inspired props were hand-picked carefully. From an ornate Haveli front door, to lighting made from antique Indian clock boxes. We customised wait stations from vintage Indian furniutre and our long campaign-style benches await groups of diners wanting the shared table experience which gave Kricket its original credibility.
All in the details
Our hand-fired fish scale tiles in the basement were designed into the fabric of the walls, embedded within the plasterwork and brickwork in a fluid design, with bronze accents shimmering under the low light. Kricket pride themselves on their innovative fish dishes, so the scaly ceramics added an underwater feel to the lower ground floor space.
Many of the decorative design finishes in the restaurant have been applied by hand. By our design team of artists and craftspeople. We added molten bronze into the cracks of existing brickwork. Applying inky washes to ceilings and exposed plasterwork, working upside down on platforms and hanging contraptions. Gold was flaked into roughened plasterwork to glint in the glow of wall lights. We also designed a beautiful globe and brass hero light for above the stairwell.
Subterranean Cocktail Den
The previously gloomy basement now features a moody and unique cocktail bar where guests get to sample an array of Kricket’s punchy, Indian-inspired drinks, imbued with the flavours and aromas of India. The bronzed metal-topped bar is festooned with quirky Indian props sourced by our FF&E team, giving the Kricket mixologists one-off cups, shakers, pourers and swizzle sticks to create their theatre with.
Private Dining Zone
The basement also features a Private Dining booth to seat 12-14. Two extra long communal sharing tables were also designed to greet patrons familiar with the casual social dining of Brixton Pop.
Client Graphics Brief: work with Natasha Kumar to create a unique art installation
Execution: Kumar vs Run For The Hills
In the basement PDR, our in-house graphic artists teamed up with British Indian fine artist Natasha Kumar to create a special wallpaper in the private dining booth. We got creative with assets kindly supplied to us by Natasha, deconstructing her architectural work, creating a bespoke wall mural. Adding edgy halftone and urban brush effects, with pops of Kricket brand orange, to create a unique and original wall mural. Diners sit at custom designed bar stools and can use antiqued luggage racks for their bags and coats.
Execution: The Washrooms
Were given an Indian twist with incense holders, carved wooden horse head shelves, vintage ironmongery and customised loo flush pulls branded with Kricket’s orange brand font.
Making Props Useful
We wanted to steer clear of cliche'd props used for purely decorative purposes, and made sure our vintage finds also served a practical purpose. From vintage propellors turned into candle sticks to Indian cowbells used to signpost last orders.
Signage and Wayfinding
The Clients hired us to design not only the interior but also the in-venue branding and signage. Determined to come up with something original, we crafted a range of quirky and playful icons and signs to guide customers throughout the space. All of which were crafted from stone or metal, or hand-painted onto surfaces.
Designing the Exterior
Westminster Planning disallowed our beautiful vintage Indian front door, but we added character by painting the exterior in an inky blue black, embellished with a hand painted logo and custom designed bronze 90 degree sign. Bespoke designed fretwork panels based on the logo in the window added a touch of subtle branding and discretion for at-bar-diners.
Our Design Process & Execution
Behind the finished photos was a complex dossier of technical drawings and detailed specifications, guiding the Client, contractors and tradespeople into how we expected our concept to be brought to life during the build. Our full technical design service follows the 5 distinct industry-standard RIBA stages. From concepting to CAD detailing, Techincal Design, Sourcing, Procurement, Handover and On site inspections.
Our photo-real CGI visualisations of our design concept are remarkably similar to the end result, which the Clients loved. It gave the whole team, including the Contractors, a clear vision of the production values we were seeking to achieve.
Run For The Hills is a creative design house that exists in the space where brand graphics and interiors meet. So we concepted, designed and installed everything within Kricket, from the interior design and decoration to the graphic design of the hoardings during construction and the design and fit of all signage and internal wayfinding. As well as designing the new drinks and food menus. Being one team let us concept quickly and make adjustments to both sides of the design during the super speedy installation. To make sure the branding and interiors felt seamless and constantly reinforced eachother to make the design as commercially and aesthetically successful as possible.
Our Aim, Kricket’s Aim
In terms of answering the brief, we were perfectly aligned in terms of our aspiration. We didn't just want our design to look great for Kricket. We also wanted it to work brilliantly for their creative and commercial objectives. Every saving we made benefitted the bottom line and gave investors confidence in us. The backers are already lining up plans for a third Kricket venue and we have been assured that the commission is ours.
We priced ourselves competitively for the creative flair and expertise we offered to the brief, which we were told was standout among the other pitches. We also added value at every stage of the project, going the extra mile on nearly every front, hosting wider Design / Build project team get togethers at our studio with the aim of speeding things up, and improving cross-agency communication. Value-engineering the design with the Contractors' QS to deliver the best design at a sensible price. Re-designing and re-specing our design where necessary. Spending extra hours hunting down the best products at the best prices. We wanted the Clients to see us as partners they could rely on to not only deliver the scope of works, but to regularly surprise them with something unexpected.
Speed And Quality
The venue was secured at short notice from the Shaftesbury Estate and the Clients wanted to open quickly. The pitch process stole a precious few weeks, and when we were selected, this left us a mere four weeks in which to design the space and produce photo-real renders and a full Scope of Works and Contractor Pack for Tender. An insanely short amount of time. But we pulled it off. And then worked with the appointed Contractor to detail the budget and value engineer it to where it needed to be. There followed a 12 week build and fit-out process, during which we secured all permissions, Planning and Landlord approvals, detailing the design simultaneously whilst the Contractor completed prelims and first fixes.
We sourced props, furniture and lighting from vintage fairs and sellers who could provide products in short lead times to meet timings. Enlisiting our own networks of creatives and artisans to carry out many of the unique decorative finishes and subtle pieces of branding within the venue. Calling in all kinds of favours to pull off the most aspriational design possible within super tight timings. The fact our finished design is so close to the CGI Concept Design shows the scale of the feat.
The opening of Kricket saw walk-in queues of up to three hours and the number of covers being turned over has by far surpassed their expectations. Investors are already planning to fund a third Kricket and a suitable venue is being sought.
Multi disciplinary Team
Our full time studio team is made up of interior designers, graphic designers, illustrators, CAD Technicians, 3D Visualisers, stylists and graphic artists. The Clients didn't need to work with multiple agencies to pull off their opening. We managed all of the creative interior design and branding elements in-house.
Post Launch Feedback
The clients tell us they've had lots of lovely feedback about the design from diners, as have we from other F&B clients, and potential new clients in the restaurant industry. We have had a few nice references to our design from critics within their reviews of Kricket’s amazing food, including a nice mention in the FT. And we have since won two new restaurant design commissions off the back of the quality of our work on Kricket Soho, and because of the testimonials given about us by the Clients.
"From pitch to design to delivery, we have been super impressed with RFTH. They have made a concerted effort to understand our product and ambitions, something which translates into the design and build of Kricket Soho. They have a talented and fun team which makes meetings a highlight of our week. We are looking forward to working with them on future projects."
RIK CAMPBELL, FRONT OF HOUSE KRICKET
"Run For The Hills are hungry and constantly over delivering. That's important when designers can make or break your project. We had 5 big players pitch for Kricket and we took a creative spark and hungry over names in the industry who had completed more projects. We are very pleased with the results as well as the communication with us as the client and the build team to get the project delivered in a tight timeline. I will use them again."
KRICKET INVESTOR, CHRIS MILLER.
MANAGING DIRECTOR OF WHITE RABBIT FUND