Divine dining in a brick house

Restaurant wizards Ville Relander and Richard McCormick chose KOKO3 to design the new addition to their family of Helsinki hotspots. The task was to create a restaurant, bar, and terrace full of deliciousness and delirium, eclecticism and intrigue. What came out at the end of the design process is a marriage of nostalgia and the present, a place that feels escapist and down to earth at the same time. The concept revolves around community and coming together – it’s all about celebrating with friends and family.

When our design team began creating Madonna’s unique concept, the terms conventional, standard and “on-trend” didn’t exist. Rather than replicating a modern interpretation of a classic restaurant, we set out to create today’s new classic. “More is more” was not only an essential part of the visual concept, but it was also the goal regarding the functionality and versatility of the spatial design and its services. A lips-shaped bar accessible from all sides, seating inside the kitchen, a takeaway window, transparent and open furniture layouts, special entrances for neighbors and “out of this world” restroom facilities are just some of the most remarkable additions to the all-encompassing dining experience.

Our planning started with a structural renovation; we brought the space back to its origins by revealing the original architecture and moving the kitchen. With this change, we were able to open up the space and provide a view through the building thanks to beautiful arched windows – horse carriage entries back in the day. The symmetry of the windows was used as a starting point and guideline for the furniture layout - symmetrical on both sides.

The bar was designed to be a true show-stopping element and the restaurant’s beating heart – just like in classic Italian bars. From morning coffee to late-night cocktails, this is where you want your journey to begin. The dining area mixes classic elements, such as black-and-white checkers tile floors, wood paneling, and classic bistro furniture with edgier pieces like softly shaped but robust banquette benches. Room dividers and playful wallpaper honoring the work of the iconic Ettore Sottsass tie together the various design elements. The color scheme throughout the dining area was created with a tricolore principle; hues of ochre pasta, red wine, and green bottles are implemented throughout the space.

The end of the corridor at the back of the restaurants reveals a fantastical surprise – a futuristic, wondrous and unanticipated restroom, characterized by a central basin shaped like a delicious layer cake. These spacious, almost patio-like unisex facilities have been designed with a communal sense and inclusiveness in mind – this space is for everyone, without divisions, sections or borders.

The terrace was designed to offer guests the feeling of being on a southern holiday, sipping classic cocktails outside a forever-authentic restaurant a long time ago.