release the Pirana

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It's set to be the hip new thing to hit Balham, and I want to be first inline for a Caipirinha. Pirana is a new South American-inspired bar-restaurant. It's the latest addition to a rather cool and eclectic portfolio from brothers Alastair and Nicholas Heathcote, who have previously established bars such as The Imperial Dunbar in Tooting and La Cabina in Dalston. For the Pirana project, they enlisted the help of designers Gayle Noonan and Tatjana von Stein from interiors studio Sella Concept.

I caught up with Gayle and Tatjana to find out more about their latest venture, Pirana.

Q 1. What was the initial brief for the restaurant and how has your concept responded to it?

The Heathcote brothers have opened various successful bars in South London but approached us to create a new brand that they could roll out in the future. While the food concept touches on south American cuisine, the brief was to create something unique with no particular cultural reference but that invites guests to eat and drink in a relaxed manner throughout the day. We couldn’t help ourselves to first respond with warm and sensual south American colours and patterns but quickly moved away from this and came up with a retro theme that transcends time and style. Our approach rests on colour and flow creating spaces within spaces to drink and dine.

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Q 2. Walk us through the space, noting any interesting or unusual features

Starting outside, we hoped to draw attention with small blue & white mosaic tiled walls against a red metal framework window façade. Uniquely colourful, guests are invited to follow the corner building to a side entrance. Upon entrance the bright but jaded colours invite you into the front room to find your place according to your mood: the chef’s table, the bar, the platform banquette area or the secret snug with its personal hatch into the bar. The light front room area speaks a different tone to our darker and more indulgent back bar both in its tone and fabric-lined, cosy private booths from which you can call the bar directly.

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Q 3. What materials have you used throughout the interior, and what is the outcome of using them?

A bespoke jade green terrazzo floor, a red metal exterior façade, micro mosaic bar tiles, ultra-thin red, curved timber slats, light blue powder coated metal… the list goes on! As always we try to combine a richness in colour and materials throughout to delight all the senses.

Our vibe is quite retro but it’s also touched on a form of playfulness and discovery.

Q 4. Is there anything about the project that you think reflects the Sella Concept brand?

Detail. We hope that the details and story throughout is what we can be recognised by. Our incentive as always is to touch the senses, from colour and texture to creating areas that speak with different moods, and thereby incentivising variable vibes in one space.

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Q 5. Has the cuisine of the restaurant influenced the design at all? If so, how?

Its casual form of small sharing plates and their wish not to distinguish diners from ‘drinkers’ influenced us to present various areas within the same to remove any barriers between the dining or drinking experience in one space.

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Q 6. What furniture have you selected for the project? Did you create any yourselves?

The only thing we didn’t custom design are the chairs & lights.

Everything else has been custom designed – booths, bar, banquette, tables, stools, floors, sinks, etc. We were pretty excited to work directly with a Spanish fabricator for a bespoke jade green terrazzo floor too.

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Q 7. How has the project stretched or challenged you or Sella Concept as a practice?

We have worked directly with the builders with no other party or architect involved. It's a very small space with a lot to fit in within a restricted budget. It’s also stretched us away from pink into a sea of other pastels and a rather scary red theme throughout.

Visit for more information about Sella

Interview via Zetteler PR

Images: Nicholas Worley