The Ricoh Arena based in Coventry and home to Premiership Rugby team Wasps, is a world-class destination with a mix of state-of-the-art conference, training, banqueting, exhibition, hotel, music and sports facilities. After 10 years as a working arena, the main restaurant offer was considered extremely fatigued, quite bland and lacking in any real cohesion or direction. During quiet periods the restaurant usually remained closed or sat lifeless as the interior lacked an inviting atmosphere.
Working with Levy Restaurants, SHH was commissioned to re-congure, re-design and update the interiors and branding for the two key restaurant and food spaces within the arena to provide various dining experiences for guests. The re-design of the bakery and brasserie restaurant acted as a catalyst for much needed change to support the overall vibrant feel of the entire venue.
The design theme created was 'handcrafted,' derived from this history of local industry and manufacturing in Coventry - from bakeries to bikes, this represents the heart of the region. The synergy between the variety and skill based industry of Coventry worked well to provide the backdrop of an industrial and modern feel to the design. The team created the concept of The Mill to support the bakery and brasserie allowing a broader narrative for imagery, uniforms and colors in all aspect of the arena's F&B offer.
In order to improve the open and inviting feel to the new Mill Bakery, SHH chose to utilise the large existing boulevard and treat the front bakery area as an 'outdoor' terrace so that activity could spill out into this space and create more buzz and atmosphere. To create the handcrafted ambiance, white herringbone tiles were used for the walls, European oak slat bench seating with olive green cushions were crafted and overhung with clusters of hand-made terracotta pendants. Lush, green plants were hung in galvanised steel buckets tied with sash cord and complimented with bespoke white laminated and oak planter boxes. With the larger public eating space, a flexible environment was created from single bar stools to group tables for match days.
Also used by guests of the adjoining DoubleTree by Hilton, the new Brasserie at The Mill restaurant was designed as a sleek oasis away from the bustle of the arena with a modern, stylish setting offering crafted dishes. SHH used the link to industry throughout the design, adding dark green powder coated metal picture rails which run around the perimeter of the bakery and brasserie, displaying archived photographs and sourced imagery showing old industrial scenes in Coventry. Beautiful old timber factory moldings that had been used to cast metal in the past were installed as artworks and old style butchers bicycles were up-cycled to display signage.
Floor to ceiling black metal architectural screens divide up the space complimented by a dramatic black ceiling tile and concrete look porcelain floor tile. The overall palette includes beveled mirror wall paneling and a series of oversized dark wenge wall boxes to house artwork with contrasting oak highlights. White marble tabletops are paired with black Norman Copenhagen knot chairs complimented by deep-buttoned olive green upholstered banquet seating. A vibrant wasabi green granite bar top has been finished with an oversized and exaggerated bull nosed edge for additional comfort. The central bar was also fundamental in bringing new life to the space as it created a hub for individuals to sit during quiet periods and visit between matches.
Crucial to the overall design concept was the consistent branding and way-finding that supported the new stylish spaces, but also added character and brought out the story behind the location. The new branding focused on - The Mill supported by the tag lines of Blended, Crafted and Baked... at The Mill. With bold black lettering, the branding is found on home-made food items, signage, menus and accessories.
Continuing with the historical Mill theme, SHH designed uniforms with an edgy, industrial style including checkered shirts and 'Coventry Blue' linen aprons with leather details. Large black and white images of local industry have been hung throughout the bakery and brasserie and the theme continues with slick menus on clipboards, easy to read digital displays and vintage bicycles hung on the walls used as signage boards.
"The modern take on the handcrafted theme brings a new vibrancy to the spaces. Adding a central bar created a destination and buzz on match days and the venues are much more lively and atmospheric than before," explained Neil Hogan, Creative Director/Founder SHH.