Sam and Sam Clark asked Studiomama to develop the basement under their existing Morito Restaurant in Hackney Road and to explore how they should change the current use as storage into an atmospheric addition to the restaurant that was also suitable for music events.
Studiomama's aim was to create a warm intimate and convivial space, that felt transformative upon entering. With no natural light, we used concealed lighting to create a subliminal sense of light permeating into the space.
It is always a challenge to make a basement space appealing to go down into. They changed the entrance to Morito – so there is the same entrance point at street level to the restaurant and basement.
Studiomama worked with Morito’s already established beige, blue and orange colour pallet to make a clear connection between the two spaces visible on arrival. In addition to this palette, they added copper to create a warm tactility to the space.
To give a feeling of togetherness and an open feel in the space they decided to run a banquet in a U-shape all along the walls. From behind the banquet, soft warm light washes up the walls creating the feeling of a cosy evening glowing light entering the space.
The lozenge-shaped wall mirrors are not only decorative but reflect the atmosphere in the space and give you a sense of intimacy. The mirrors also serve to give you changing vistas of the space as you enter and move around it.
The bar is the focal point within the space – the shape evoking a big orange sunset – and the colour and light mimicking the glowing Spanish Seville Orange.
The feature orange midline from the Morito restaurant is used in a continuous line as the handrail guiding you down into the basement restaurant giving you the feeling of connection between the two-level spaces.
When descending the stairs, we created a backlit copper-clad wall that bends forms a ceiling as you finish your descent into the space. The copper wall also serves as a backdrop for a bespoke designed chandelier for the entrance. The light emanating from the chandelier forms faint reflections in the copper wall creating a feeling of depth and texture to the entrance space. The entrance serves to set the scene and character for what’s to come.
The distinctive orange line used to connect the blue and beige walls was continued to create an orange balustrade with a simple playful geometry echoing that of the bar turning on the landing before finishing your descent into the sea of blue.
The bar is located so it is possible to see the end corner form the top landing - so you already know before going down the stairs that there is a buzzing bar and live music ahead of you. The bar top has been made in copper – which blends with the dominant colours blue and oranges. The copper bar surface reflects the constantly changing nature of the bar, and of course, a very suitable natural anti-bacteria surface.
The orange semi-circular storage unit forms a backdrop to the bar which is backlit creating the sense of an unending sunset. The horizontal shelving within the semi-circular back wall has concealed warm light that washes up against the copper back of the back wall creating a sense of depth and warmth to space.
The interaction between these considered design elements, makes for a pleasing and joyful space, evoking the feeling of being in a warm temperate climate.
The basement is well isolated for hosting music evenings – something the London seems to have less and less of.
On the side of the bar is an additional kitchen – keeping the close connection from the kitchen to table that Morito is known for.