Saltie Girl in Mayfair is London’s newest “it” restaurant, already frequented by celebs from Salma Hayek to Robert Pattinson. We caught up with Jake Raslan and Lorenzo Buscaroli, the interior design duo behind Atelier Wren, the studio that brought the space to life.
What was your vision for Saltie Girl?
JAKE RASLAN: Saltie Girl is a cult classic restaurant in Boston and the owners wanted to bring the concept to LA and Mayfair. They approached us for Mayfair. We had to be true to the original restaurant, which gave us a steer on things like colour – it had to be nautical, being a seafood restaurant – but we then had to ‘Mayfairise’ it. Boston is more relaxed but in Mayfair it’s a different type of clientele, so we had to take it to the next level. We wanted the lighting to be much more exciting, with more drama.
LORENZO BUSCAROLI: It’s a busy street with Roka and Ivy Asia, and Lucky Cat around the corner so we had to make it stand out as well making sure it was all kept on-brand. Being a seafood restaurant we wanted to make sure the shucker station was at the front of the restaurant so you could see it from the street. It’s a long site so we wanted to have some excitement at the back too, which is where we put the open kitchen. Every time you go, there’s something of interest that you might not have noticed before.
JR: It’s amazing to see the place take on a life of its own when it fills up with people. I’ve always admired Salma Hayek, so seeing her in a space that we designed was a special moment. To use an acting metaphor, it’s our job to design the stage set – we need to make sure it’s beautiful and that it works for the actors, who need to be able to put on a fantastic performance. But we still enjoy the performance ourselves!
What’s the story behind Atelier Wren?
JR: Lorenzo and I worked together for six or seven years and during Covid we started to think about running our own company. We were always the guys doing the late nights and the weekends, so we had a similar work ethic. In our previous jobs we worked with chefs including Jason Atherton, Michel Roux, Emily Roux, Atul Kochhar and Ben Tish. So at Atelier Wren we naturally gravitate towards restaurants and hospitality: as well as Saltie Girl we have worked on Caia and we have upcoming projects including House of Ming at the Taj Hotel and Atul Kochhar’s next restaurant.
But we’ve also worked on five star hotel rooms and the luxury driving range Pitch Soho. A lot of people come into interior design from the high-end residential side and we’re always singing the praises of commercial. We’re not designing someone’s home that you’ll never see in use, we’re designing something that’s going to be part of the fabric of the city, somewhere you can take your mum. As a company we understand the flow of service and the technical things that make a space work. One of our specialties is we can design almost every aspect of a space, from the light fittings to the sofas and chairs.
What design trends are you seeing?
JR: We’ve seen so many phases over the years. We still come across clients who want the industrial look and we have to say ‘once Starbucks have done that, it’s time to look elsewhere’. When we started this company, we asked ourselves what we would like to design. The answer was bright, airy, fresh, feminine, light spaces. We took inspiration from West Coast American designers.
What’s your dream project?
LB: Bruno Barbieri is a chef from my hometown of Imola in Italy – we even share the same barber – whose restaurants have won seven Michelin stars, so I would love to work with him. Francesco Mazzei is someone else I really admire.
What are your favourite restaurants for design?
JR: Even in the very early days when I was walking to work to save money, I would take new employees to the Wolseley. David Collins has created a classic there and it’s a place I always revert back to, not necessarily in terms of its style but just how beautifully it works as a space.
LB: Bob Bob Ricard is another one, with its Press For Champagne button. Clients often ask for an Instagram moment in a restaurant and it’s not always something we want to give them but that one just works.
• To see more from Atelier Wren check out their Instagram @AtelierWren