Sketch and the art of the restaurant

Q. What is Sketch's relationship with art?

A. Sketch wants to live with its time and this means engaging with art as a part of society today. Even if you don’t appreciate contemporary art – you need to have an eye on it and have a certain interest. Compared to some other restaurants we have relatively few pieces here at any time, because our idea for our installations is to be always in movement.

Q. What role do you think art plays in creating a glamorous restaurant?

A. You can have a glamorous restaurant without art. But it won’t be anything special – it will be just a place. These days art is part of the daily life of people – it used to be for a small circle of people only; now it’s everyone. Even my mother is interested. But Sketch is not just about visual art. Food is art for me, too.

Q. How do food and art go together, then?

A. The association with [Sketch chef] Pierre Gagnaire means Sketch needs to renew itself constantly – and the art and video installations need to be part of that. Because with food we are creating every day. Sketch is different from many places – we’ve done 1,100 recipes in nine years. We create dishes and change them a month after – then they’re gone. We don’t keep the recipes. This is not very good business-wise – when you don’t have fixed dishes you can lose customers. But when you are with someone like Pierre Gagnaire you have to keep changing. He is a guy who always creates. Show him an empty plate and it can give him an idea for a dish you’d never have imagined.

Q. Why does Sketch partner with Frieze?

A. Because we have been involved in art pop-ups before, they asked if we wanted to do it. We started with the Royal Academy, then Carsten Höller’s The Double Club near Angel, which was a crazy place – half club, half restaurant; half European, half Congolese. Given my relationship with art institutions, it’s normal for Frieze to come to us, for us to say yes, for us to prove that we can do something nice and neat for Frieze art fair.

Q. Sketch has remained unique despite a decade of new openings in London. How?

A. Sketch is not a restaurant, it’s a place. In the beginning even I didn’t know exactly what Sketch was – there was nothing similar. It’s a place and inside the place there is fine dining, tea room, brasserie and bars – under the same roof, lots of types of people. That general mix didn’t work at first– so today, everyone has their own room. There are some people just there for fine dining; there are kids in the parlour. To mix people is what I love the most. This is art: the big mix!

Q. Are pop-ups the future of restaurants?

A. No. You can never make money with pop-ups. The purpose is to do something else, to learn, to have fun. Pop-ups are very intense, though: Frieze is five days; on the first day we have 1,600 people coming. I’m having nightmares about it!

Q. do you think london is a special place for art and food?

A. Absolutely, because London is a machine, it needs to clean itself all the time: there are so many people trying to live life in a better way. London is hungry and exciting. For info on Sketch at Frieze go to


During the daytime, “the Gallery” is a temporary exhibitions space that specializes in multi-channel video installations, presenting up to seven shows per year with emerging and established international artists and filmmakers. Alongside recent solo exhibitions by Andrew Kötting, Carsten Nicolai, Paper Rad, Iain Sinclair & Chris Petit, Noam Gonick and Amy Granat, the gallery has also produced shows with John Baldessari, Isaac Julien, Tracey Emin and Jonas Mekas among many others. Every evening the Gallery is transformed from art gallery to restaurant with a separate programme of specially commissioned temporary exhibitions by emerging designers, filmmakers and artists. 

Sketch also produces and presents touring projects and cinema screenings such as CINACT: Serpentine Cinema in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery and Picturehouse Cinemas.