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Take a bite of Bocca on Bree

New contemporary restaurant Bocca, designed by Inhouse Brand Architects, is a stylish slice of “organic industrial” flavour

Bocca Bocca

The industrial look has long been a design staple. In recent years, as the cultural trend has shifted towards an increased green awareness, natural and organic finishes have to come to the fore in interiors. With their interior scheme and exterior treatment for new restaurant Bocca, on Bree St in Cape Town, Inhouse Brand Architects has successfully fused these two aesthetic directions to present an “organic industrial” look that is both appealing and up-to-the-minute. The functional severity of the industrial look is warmed and softened by the use of natural materials. It’s all very now – and wow!

Bocca is the latest venture of well-known food and wine fundi Neil Grant, with his business partner Barry Engelbrecht. Grant’s other establishment, the award-winning Burrata, which is located in Cape Town’s Biscuit Mill, was also designed by Inhouse. This time round, Inhouse Creative Director Aidan Hart and designers Ernst Frame-Tolmie and Becky Kriedemann took their cue from the bustling Bree St dynamic, and neighbouring haunts, before framing their design solution. A hipster playground, Bree St attracts a sophisticated urban set and plays home to destination stores and trendy restaurants.

Bocca’s Interior

But Bocca is set to please. A tiered wooden deck spills from the interior out onto the pavement, creating an inviting point-of-intrigue. Outside walls are also clad in wood to create visual continuity, and are broken by fold-open glass doors, through which passer-byers can have a sneak-peek into the restaurant’s lively interior and patrons can people-watch or suck in the city-scape.

Bocca’s most striking feature is no doubt the wrap-around structure that cocoons the interior. It is constructed from a curved metal frame that supports a series of natural oak slats. Rising from the granite floor, it curves to form a bench for seating, continues up the double volume wall, curves over the ceiling and lands on the mezzanine level in yet another curvacious bench. There is a seamless visual connection between the two floors. An oak and metal staircase allows access between the two. On the ground floor the bench runs the full length of the wall. It is completed with leather cushions, and fronted by a line of square wooden tables.

The extensive use of natural materials, including wood, marble and granite, is thrown into bold relief by exposed metal pipes that crisscross the ceiling. Often sealed or hidden away, the pipes have been left exposed – a typical industrial look feature. Bocca’s corporate colours – burnt orange and deep blue – have been highlighted in that the extraction piping is deliberately turned into an eye-catching feature by painting it a vibrant indigo.

The ambience of the interior is enhanced by the open-plan design that places the kitchen at the ‘heart’ of the restaurant. An imported Italian wood burning oven coloured in burnt orange and wrapped in Yves Klein blue tiles takes centre stage. According to Hart the wood burning oven is “the hero of the restaurant. The intention of the design is to make dining a sociable experience and the wood burning oven was designed to make the diners feel like they are a part of the kitchen and the food making process.”

The wood burning oven is view of groundfloor diners and because it is situated close to the all-glass shopfront, also attracts the attention of passersby. The mezzanine level too offers a series of colourful perspectives. Sitting on a wooden counter, that encircles the mezzanine level, diners can view the ‘theatre of food’ unfolding in the kitchen below. They can also enjoy the activity of the surrounds by gazing through the glass shop front, down Wale St and across Bree St.

While the interior boasts a pleasing blend of oak, marble and granite, the boldly black bathroom is an entirely different animal. Shiny black ceramic wall tiles and black and white patterned Moroccan flooring contrast with the wood, steel and leather that abound in the restaurant. While the bathroom is different to the restaurant floor, the common thread is fine attention to detail.

This boldness does feature elsewhere, though. The outside signage displays a hard-to-miss orange ‘O’ in the name Bocca. The orange references the brightly hued wood burning oven within, and the shape of the O can’t help but bring the delicious circle of a pizza to mind. Warm, inviting and dynamic, Bocca’s custom-made environment provides a singular restaurant experience – one that offers laidback fare in a unique interior.

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