Natural tone and clean lines highlight the visual collision between horizontal and vertical planes in a sophisticated Cape Town restaurant.
Novati on Main was conceived by Aldo Novati and the late Terry Weldon. The former is a seasoned restaurateur and the latter came from a strong design background. Their mutual vision entails a combination of excellent food and excellent design in an European-inspired establishment.
The restaurant is housed in the new Norwich on Main building in Claremont with outstanding views of... yeah you guessed it... the mountain. Over a period of six weeks the Design House team produced a simple layout which prioritises practicality and orientation, ensuring that bar area and service points are closest to the kitchen, and dining
area enjoy maximum exposure and access to views and outdoor seating.
Within the rectangular shape, the service facilities are placed a the innermost corner leaving an L-shaped space with optimum window frontage for the public areas. A defined entrance opens onto a casual dining section which caters for breakfast and light meals. Adjacent to this is an oyster and champagne bar, followed by the main bar and associated seating. The remainder of the L-shape is devoted to the formal dining component.
While the different portions of the restaurant remain open to one another, they are distinguished by various material finishes and furnishings which have been selected according to functional, aesthetic and cost factors. The bar acts as a dividing component between the dining area and therefore displays the most distinctive treatments. The counter front is clad with thin marble and backlit, creating a wonderful retro, mosaic-like impression. The counter top is marble and all shelving is constructed from maple, glass and stainless steel. The definitely-hip club-style seating area alongside is furnished with stainless steel tables and four-legged stools upholstered in dark green leather.Flooring comprises of slick stainless steel tiles. The adjacent oyster and champagne bar, with counter consisting of glass front (also backlit) and granite top, doubles as a retail showcase for luxurious foods and condiments.
Seating in the formal dining are is styled after Frank Lloyd Wright's 1937 Barrel chair, with wooden frame, curved back and leather upholstery. Tables are dressed with napery and bench seating along some walls provides a linear element to contrast with the shape of the chairs. The casual dining area has simpler furnishing and tables are uncovered to show their natural wood finish. Both sections have porcelain tile floors.
Possibly the most engaging visual aspect on Novati's interior is the interplay of horizontal and vertical elements. The most obvious example is a maple and sandblasted glass screen which provides a greater sense of privacy by partially dividing the formal dining area in two. The two flat planes of materials are beautifully composed in a Mondrian-like arrangement which compliments the vertical lines of surrounding drapery and wall storage units.
Clever lighting design also contributes to the linear composition of the interior. One strip of lighting is concealed within a lengthly bulkhead which runs along the inner perimeter of the room. This is used to house a narrow conditioning vent which due to its horizontal position, becomes an attractive graphic element at ceiling level. A strong line is also created along the outside edge of the room where the ceiling is recessed to conceal another strip of indirect lighting. The remainder of the illumination is provided by low voltage spots within the main body of the ceiling.
While contrasting materials create an interesting mixture of tones, artwork provides the only decorative and colourful element. Artist Tracey Payne has enlarged details of vegetables and utensils in a style that lends an airbrushed quality, and in colours that are reminiscent of Pop Art. The works draw attention but do not interfere with the simplicity
of the interior.
Depending on the time of day or night, Novati on Main can serve many functions, satisfying the whims of almost any patron within an elegant, modern and skillfully designed interior.