Autoban recently completed the design for Babaji, a new Turkish restaurant in London's Soho from renowned restauranteur Alan Yau. The studio's first London project, Babaji is a contemporary take on Turkish craft and artisan culture, showcasing materials such as handmade ceramic tiles and brass inlay techniques.
As Babaji is housed within a late 19th Century historic brick building, the exterior has been kept simple, blending in with the building façade as well as its lively Soho surroundings. The texture of the restaurant façade has been attained by plastering and painting over a metal structure, resulting in a naturally weathered surface. The vivid blue tiles that dominate the interior of the restaurant are dramatically revealed through large glass windows, drawing diners inside.
Autoban designed much of the furniture exclusively for Babaji, with some additional signature pieces from the studio's existing furniture collections. Although the furniture has a sense of simplicity there is also a richness and attention to detail in each piece, such as the inlaid brass detailing in the wood banquette seating and tabletops. Brass inlays are found in traditional Turkish culture, and Autoban has applied a contemporary dotted design to the Babaji pieces. These inlaid brass patterns have been placed on the back of the banquettes, making this striking design feature visible from the outside of the restaurant.
Stepping into Babaji, diners are immediately transported from London's vibrant Shaftesbury Avenue into contemporary Turkey. As with Yau's approach to the menu, Autoban's design concept was inspired by traditional Turkish design, and the materials that have been used within the restaurant showcase Turkey's artisan culture and almost forgotten craft techniques.
A dominant feature of Babaji's interior is vivid blue ceramic tiles that have been designed by Autoban to cover the interior space. Inspired by the veins of Marmara marble, Autoban created a patterned texture on the surface of the tiles. This texture, and the application of the tiles onto the walls, reflects both Turkish style and the dynamism of London's Soho neighbourhood.