International interior design studio Jolie have used their revolutionary approach to sensory-led interior design to create a trans-continental journey through their evocative designs for Kitten, Manchester’s striking new Japanese Izakaya and cocktail bar that promises to become the most Instagrammable spot in the city. Read more about the project below at SURFACES REPORTER (SR):
Located within the burgeoning new Deansgate Square district on the southern edge of the city centre, Jolie has crafted an amazing space that exudes the sophistication and elegance of comparable restaurants in London, New York and the United Arab Emirates.
Design For Affluent Millennials
Appealing to an affluent millennial-mindset clientele known for prioritising experience over possessions, the design studio has eschewed a purely aesthetics driven approach and have instead utilised sensory zoning by considering the feel, fragrance and soundtrack for each internal area, to enhance the customer journey throughout the space, from morning to night.
Sensory- Balanced Design
Unique within the commercial interior design industry, Jolie is committed to creating community spaces that puts ‘sensory-balanced’ design at the heart of everything they do, collaborating with neuroscientists in each sensory ?eld to carefully source and combine materials and fragrances to craft each environment from the inside out.
A scent pro?le of amber (calming), incense (inspiring) and patchouli (uplifting) has been devised by Jolie for use throughout the interior to help unify each of the internal areas, while a soundtrack of Tropical Bird Club and Japanese Tech has been compiled to showcase the cultural narrative of the restaurant’s food and drink offering.
“When we design spaces such as Kitten we not only incorporate sustainable practices and elements, but take it a step further by influencing behaviours that promote a socially and environmentally sustainable future landscape. We want to lead with authenticity in our developments, weaving responsible choices into every decision, stage, and feature,” says Founder and CEO Franky Rousell
In a post-pandemic era where experiential travel is highly desired but not always attainable, the transformative nature of wanderlust became a key component of Jolie’s design approach to Kitten. The studio wanted to infuse the space with a sense of culture and destination-driven dining without drawing upon tired clichés and caricatured design. Instead they adopted a quintessentially Japanese approach by crafting a holistic and sensual environment that feels both fresh and contemporary, yet culturally ambiguous - and therefore easily adaptable long into the future.
The towering 5 metre Bonsai tree and bamboo-clad back wall of the front lounge area offer the only direct material nods to the restaurant’s current cuisine.
Stunning Experiences Right From the Entrance
Echoing the splendour of the 200 metre-high skyscraper in which it sits, the cavernous interior of Kitten inspires awe and wonder from the moment guests step through the triple height entryway. Huge archways on the wall behind the central bar offer a cathedral-like “higher power” experience, clad in a neutral tone marble that exudes a sense of prestige and wealth and forms an impressive backdrop to the bar where the crafting of sushi and cocktails - aka ‘the magic’ - happens.
“The food and cocktail offering of Kitten is really innovative,” says Rousell, “and we really wanted to draw people’s attention to that. We’ve then softened this sense of grandeur in other areas by using a more natural and down-to-earth palette, particularly at the rear of the restaurant where we want people to linger, so that the experience is all about a shared coming together over food.
For example, we’ve maintained the same archway silhouettes for visual continuity, but with a plaster ?nish that makes the space feel more grounded and comfortable. The use of leather upholstery is reassuring and gentle, like the human touch, while the plush velvet of the armchairs has been incorporated to promote open and meaningful conversation.”
“We've been quite clever with how we want people to behave throughout the different internal spaces by changing up that materiality,” says Rousell, “and, in turn, softening that feeling of initial impressiveness as you walk through into comfort by introducing plenty of wood tones, which is psychologically one of the most reassuring materials because of its inherent connection to nature.”
Project Name: Kitten
Client: Kitten Restaurant
Interior Design: Jolie
Size: 270sqm / 56 covers
Location: 9 Deansgate, Owen St, Manchester M15 4YB
Photography: Billy Bolton
Text and images courtesy: https://www.joliestudio.co.uk
Founded in 2018, Jolie is a full-service interior design studio, working in the commercial & hospitality sector. In an age of real-world social disconnect where screens demand our attention and fast-moving trends drive the physical world we inhabit, Jolie focuses on the power of real, emotionally-driven experiences that can be influenced by environment and interior space. Their research focuses on human behaviour related to sensory experience; collaborating with neuroscientists in each sensory ?eld, Jolie carefully sources and combines materials and fragrances to imagine each interior. Acting as interior consultants or principal designers, Jolie collaborate with contractors, architects, suppliers and project managers to deliver from concept to construction.