“I try to find a strong idea that can lead me through the whole project,” says architect Pierluigi Piu. This especially holds true for Olivocarne, the new “meatery” in London’s Belgravia district. Rather than hewing to the seaside tropes of Mediterranean dining, it serves up a bold central theme – a modern twist on folk iconography – through its brilliant wall tiles.
The unusual decoration represents an evolution. Olivocarne follows Piu’s designs for Olivo Restaurant and Shop’s other outposts, including the seafood eatery Olivomare. All are animated by the now signature wall treatments designed by the Italian architect, who, like restaurateur Mauro Sanna, hails from Sardinia. The island’s agricultural and artistic traditions inspired the new interior, but Piu gives them a resolutely contemporary spin.
In the narrow, 300-square-metre space, diners are greeted by a wall covered with a terracotta bas-relief representing a flock of sheep (complete with playful little heads), crafted by Sardinian sisters Stefania and Cristina Arìu. In the elevated dining area toward the back, Piu adorned the dove grey Corian walls with dark silhouettes, in the same material, of shepherds and hunters, pheasants and wild boars, all handmade by Mauro Angius and inspired by Sardinian folk artist Eugenio Tavolara.
Although Piu honours tradition, he is not a slave to it. One wall of the dining room features aubergine linen draperies, faced with glamorous mirrors to widen the space and lend intimacy. The interior’s muted palette of dove grey, sleek brown, pale lavender and saturated turquoise references the pastels of the architect’s home, reimagined for an urbane setting. “One of my teachers said that you must show people things they cannot normally see,” Piu explains of his approach. “You put them together to make a new dream.”