Piraña is a South American-inspired bar and restaurant located in the emerging nightlife hub of Bedford Hill, London. Brothers Alastair and Nicholas Heathcote have benefited from their prior successful “nightlife venue” experiences and opened a new spot – bar brand that could win the hearts of locals and had the potential to expand beyond the neighborhood. Both the interior and exterior were designed by London-based design studio Sella Concept.
“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. Our approach rests on colour and flow, creating spaces within spaces to drink and dine. The Heathcote brothers were keen that their new venture avoid drawing too closely from the South American aesthetic, so we resisted the soft, warm colours and traditional patterns associated with the region, and developed a bolder, engagingly retro design theme that transcends specific cultural roots. From the shell of a former restaurant, we have conjured a fluid, immersive space, seamlessly subdivided into different areas, each with a subtly different mood. The owners were keen for the atmosphere to be casual and easygoing, with no sense of division between diners and drinkers, and this comes across in a layout governed by a feeling of flow rather than division. Light and welcoming, Piraña’s front room houses a chef’s table, a curved bar, a banquette-lined platform and a ‘secret’ snug with a private bar hatch. The back room is darker and more indulgent in tone, lined with cosy and intimate private booths, from which customers can call the bar directly. These distinct but connected zones allow Piraña customers to use the space as their mood and preference dictates. Designed to catch the eye with its bold colour combinations, the exterior has been styled with mosaics of blue and white tile and striking window façades dominated by a red metal framework . Inside, Piraña’s playful, trend-agnostic aesthetic is created through the use of a rich, sensory palette of colours and materials, including a bespoke floor in jade terrazzo, micro mosaic tiling at the bar, and a deep, earthy red in the upholstery and the curved timber slats that ties the space together. Apart from the chairs and lights, every fixture and item of furniture in Piraña has been custom-designed for the space by our studio – including the booths, bar, banquette, tables , stools, floors and bathroom sinks– and, unusually, the studio worked directly with the building contractor on the renovation, without involving a third party architect. The result is an unusual and inviting venue that somehow packs a host of different atmospheres into a comparatively small space, and a bold new bar brand for Balham,” explained Tatjana von Stein and Gayle Noonan, founders of Sella Concept