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London, UK, April 2015 – specialist restaurant and retail design consultancy o1creative today unveils its latest work in designing Pilots Bar & Kitchen – a new 4,000 sq ft. restaurant at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 that is inspired by the golden age of commercial aviation. Nestled among an avenue of luxury retail outlets within the airport including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Fortnum & Mason and Rolex, Pilots Bar & Kitchen – which opened its doors in December 2014 – serves up a selection of all-day culinary classics from American pancakes and pizza to salads and sandwiches, for travellers seeking tasty replenishment and stylish ‘down time’ ahead of their flight.

Food and drink group “rhubarb” – the company behind the restaurants in London’s recently launched Sky Garden – tasked o1creative to design a restaurant that would both accommodate full dining as well as more dynamic, on-the-go drinking and grazing. Inspired by the romantic advertising images of 1950s commercial air travel, and part driven by the urge to rejuvenate the spirit and excitement of flying, o1creative set about designing a chic yet affordably luxurious eatery that paid homage to this golden, glamorous, post-war era.

Sue Heaps, director at o1creative commented, “We used a lot of photographic visual references and re-produced advertising illustration to map out the look and feel of the space. For us, what really epitomised the golden age of aviation was the Douglas Dakota passenger aircraft – it is both beautiful and iconic. This soon became the springboard for further design ideas; its aesthetic influence is deeply evident in the very fabric of the restaurant – from the stainless steel fins masquerading as the bar’s columns to the riveted steel executive club armchairs upholstered in soft baseball glove leather. “

The restaurant is fashioned on a vintage-inspired palette reminiscent of the hues of an old photograph that has been brought to life. In fact, o1creative handpicked and curated a mood board of illustrations, photography and 50s advertising to set the look and feel of the space. The rear wall is dominated by a large Dakota photographic mural as well as a specially commissioned hand drawn artwork that engenders the optimism and glamour of the period.

Derrick Pover, co-director of o1creative commented, “The challenge was to create an iconic design that was reminiscent of the era without deviating into a pastiche. Much of the artwork and photography are recreated to be larger than life; in doing so, what has been achieved is a space this is really immersed in the spirit of aviation in the 50s. This is the era of the Rat Pack and a time when international travel was truly exciting and new, and this essence really filters through into accents of the restaurant’s design.”

Key features of Pilots Bar & Kitchen include:

  • Riveted stainless steel executive club armchairs
  • Glass hangar-style doors
  • Antique searchlight fittings
  • Open plan kitchen
  • Aeronautic features including an oversized jet engine intake on the ceiling above the bar

The o1creative team’s initial challenge was to overcome the complexities of working in a highly restricted space in one of the world’s busiest airports.

Several issues were at hand, including:

  • The proposed open plan kitchen – set out to add a little visual theatre in food preparation for diners – was deemed a ‘high risk’ configuration
  • The key access points of the airport in which materials and equipment needed to enter into the space were incredibly tight
  • “rhubarb’s” aspiration to have the restaurant ready and open in December the week before Christmas presented a tough time challenge
  • The production and installation of the oversized centrepiece jet engine installed above the bar – at 2.5 meters in diameter and nearly half a tonne in weight – presented further logistical challenges

Derrick Pover commented: “Pilots Bar & Kitchen was one of those projects – both testing and fulfilling in equal measures. And while we did face many challenges throughout the build, the creation and installation of this jet engine feature certainly presented us with a few problems! When the item was finally manufactured, there were logistical issues in getting it up and into the space. Doors at security had to be removed alongside traffic bollards and balustrading in order to facilitate entrance. We also had our engineer design special lifting equipment to manouvre the centrepiece to overcome the various obstacles in its path… it was a bit tricky!”

Despite the complexities, the project completed smoothly and on time. Since opening its doors in December, Pilots Bar & Kitchen has been very popular with passengers passing through the terminal. Helen Bowey, retail director for “rhubarb” commented, “We wanted to create a chic and visually entertaining environment that complemented an inspiring food offer with plenty of points of interest that referenced the golden, post-war aviation era. Reinforcing the qualities of the terminal, Pilots Bar & Kitchen represents affordable luxury with the customer experience at its core, reminding passengers that it’s not just about the destination, but the journey.”

Design: o1creative

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