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Freehaus - Sesame


Drawing references from fast food restaurants and inspired by vibrant market stalls and smoking grills of the Middle East, Freehaus designed Ottolenghi team’s new fast food restaurant Sesame, to provide a contemporary take on fast food - clean, bright and lively.






The project brief for the Ottolenghi team’s new Middle Eastern fast food restaurant Sesame was simple, “create a fun, unpretentious space”. Drawing references from fast food restaurants and inspired by vibrant market stalls and smoking grills of the Middle East, we collectively aimed to provide a contemporary take on fast food, something clean, bright and lively.

Freehaus worked alongside the client team, lead designer Alex Meitlis and brand consultancy Here Design, to establish and refine the key design principles that underpin founding Ottolenghi director Noam Bar’s new venture. Freehaus were responsible for interpreting the initial concept principles and setting out the detailed design and technical parameters for the scheme. Furthermore Freehaus were responsible for ensuring the overall delivery through to completion.

Overall the new restaurant provides 40 covers within an informal dining setting. Bespoke encaustic tiles line both the floor and walls and take cues from Arabic interiors and typography. Sesame is the Ottolenghi team’s sixth restaurant in London, and is based in Covent Garden. Whilst there is currently one branch there are plans to expand with more across the city where it is envisaged that the graphic power of the tiles can be further utilized so that if more branches open in architecturally-different environments, one would recognise this as a recurring motif.

Aside from the bespoke tiles internal finishes are deliberately left raw, with minimal touches in order to keep the interiors “intentionally simple, inexpensive and minimal”. Selected artworks line the walls showcasing references as diverse from Istanbul markets, spinning dervishes, fresh fruit and dining families.

Bespoke neon signage provides wayfinding throughout the space: from menu options, condiment units and hand-wash stations.

The design team were tasked with delivering this ambitious and dynamic dining experience into less then 200 sq/m of space spread over two floors of an existing building. The specific brief to provide a genuine charcoal grill dining experience within a central London location was put to the test through rigorous planning and building control requirements. This resulted in a highly engineered extract and ventilation system and state of the art filtration to ensure that any cooking emissions are reduced to effectively fresh air before being expelled to the exterior.

A robust acoustic strategy was implemented in order to deal with the new residential properties located above the premises to ensure that key planning guidelines were adhered to.

Photography: Adam Luszniak