Design Centre Stories

Design Date – Afroditi Krassa

Afroditi Krassa describes her work as the creation of “category-defining hospitality”. From Heston Blumental’s ultimate airport restaurant at Heathrow to Tel-Aviv-inspired London restaurant Bala Baya, her design schemes make customers want to stay a while – and come again. She’s speaking as part of a Conversations in Design talk about how hospitality interiors increasingly need to be multi-functional, experiential spaces – and elaborates on that subject here.

Conversations in Design:
Common Spaces: Creating Experiential Environments, 3pm, Sunday 4 March

Why do hospitality spaces now need to be more multi-functional?
Audiences are in need of constant stimulation – it is the digital-era generation. The customer is much more engaged long term when spaces fulfil different needs at different times; it builds a longer-term connection.

Is there a hospitality project of yours that stands out for being multi-functional?
We are currently working on a couple of projects that require multi-use thinking, most notably Dreamland in Margate, where we are reinventing a 70,000 square foot internal area to accommodate F&B, entertainment, culture and retail all in one.

What other hospitality trends are you seeing?
I think multi F&B spaces [food markets] are also a massive trend – a modern-day Disneyland for foodies, if you like.

What are some of the design ingredients of the best hospitality interiors?
Perfect lighting and sound. We tend to forget that the visual aspect is only a very small part of the creation of overall ambience; our senses go beyond that. In an oversaturated visual world, our bodies crave uber-atmospheric lighting and great sound.

Has the rise of Instagram has affected your work?
Yes, 100%. Spaces that are not photogenic are disregarded, which is a shame, as sometimes it is the least loud of environments that capture your heart. But it is very early days for social media and I think it will change soon. It’s a bit like first-generation websites that used to be all singing and all dancing: now it is all about content.

What’s been your most challenging project?
Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant at Heathrow. Trying to translate Heston’s thinking and ambition, as well as Michelin-starred dining, to an airport environment with many restrictions required quite a lot of patience – which is not my virtue.

What are you currently working on?
As well as Dreamland, but we are also launching a new high-end boutique Indian restaurant concept in central London, creating a future blueprint for Byron Burgers across the UK, and we’ve just started on a disruptive new indie restaurant concept for Frankfurt.

What do you obsess over in your work?
The customer. As boring as it is, in hospitality, the customer is king. I obsess over understanding what makes us all tick, the small things that makes us all fall in love with a restaurant or a bar. I always think it’s the small things…