In order to stay relevant in the intensely competitive hospitality industry, Earls–a family owned, premium-casual chain–recognized the need for innovation, to be daring and to try new things. The goal undertaken with the client and our collaborators Glasfurd and Walker was to create a one-off prototype restaurant, where bold new ideas in food, service, décor and the whole psychology of hospitality could be developed and tested. The challenge was to imagine a prototype concept as something Earls would do if they had never before opened a restaurant (or 66, to be exact). The concept for ‘Project 67’ set up what at first appear to be contradictions, but in fact are ‘complementary opposites’.
To that end the design of the interior uses a subtle mix of high and lowbrow, the materials throughout are quite elemental in nature and skew more earthy and primal than posh: basalt, bleached walnut and hot rolled steel contrast with oversized chandeliers, intricate glass installations and striking large-scale still photography. Without forsaking coherence in the overall design direction, the space is broken up into several micro zones, each offering a different experience. Because the whole space is about exploration and experiment, much of the furniture and lighting is bespoke–a deliberate strategy to avoid too much déjà-vu with regard to other restaurant environments. From the warm, inviting ‘Lobby Lounge’ and the bright, streamlined ‘Canteen’ to the casual ‘Beer Bar’ and the opulent ‘Bankers Bar’; Earls.67 is a fashion-forward embodiment of the reliability and reputation of the brand.