Surround, a new chic burger joint opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, early this year, set in a colourful, vibrant and an engaging space full of quirky design features which displays the character of the eatery.
The award-winning design firm H2R Design was tasked to create a fun and playful space with sophistication for the foodies of Riyadh to gather, have great food and to really celebrate life together. The brief was to create a an easy-going dining concept, where friends and like-minded people get together, catch up and relax over good food and good company.
The 200-sq-m venue is conceptually divided into two spaces: the workshop (open kitchen); and the playground, which is the restaurant area, depicting a recess scene at school.
H2R Design worked closely with the client to execute their vision for Surround which resulted in the minimal yet playful restaurant inspiring the sense of community.
“We focused on making Surround a spirited ‘playground’ for adults, whilst retaining the elegant side. This can be seen in the wall grid, taking us back to school graph paper, with quirky sketches and doodles that create a nostalgic language. As there is so much boldness on the higher level of the space with pink taking prominence, we wanted to keep it quite cool and neutral as we worked our way down,” explains Hasan Roomi, Co-Founder of H2R Design, a London and Dubai based design firm founded by Hasan and his brother Husain Roomi.
“Our methodology was to combine the different ways of harmonising the playfulness with the cultured,” Husain continues. “We didn’t want to scare people off by being too childlike, and we didn’t want it to feel too sophisticated either. The pink perimeter paint was initially alarming for the client, as it was so protruding. But once all the other materials and furniture coalesced, they loved it!”
The interior design features distinct use of materials and unusual amalgamations. For example, concrete micro-topping was incorporated as a neutral canvas, and the space was built up with different tiles, marble and white, cut in different shapes and angles. Brave colours in the furniture on the higher level form the sense of boldness and fun, while the use of wood and rattan add a bit of temperateness.
The bold colours were influenced by the original branding, in pinks and greens. H2R Design aimed to develop the identity of Surround holistically between the brand identity and the location. The space encourages each visitor to use it differently, as if it were an adult ‘recess’ area where guests can sit in a big group, as a pair or as an individual.
“Whether it is the brazen pink paint, the tabletop grouting, or the concrete painted walls creating a cleansed canvas, the overall design skews sharply away from the expectation of what a burger joint in the middle of Riyadh should be. We believe we have pushed the boundaries by creating a more feminine-orientated design that is loud and proud. We wish we could share the number of times and the comments we received from women walking past the venue during our site visits. They were very much drawn in by the identity, and really curious to know when it was going to open. This was a clear indication of the appetite for change and the new in the city,” Hasan says.
Notable design features include the colours such as pink, which gives the space its bold identity, while the timbers and rattans to bring it back down to earth. Tabletops are square tiles with pink grout, making the food and the packaging really pop out once laid on the tables.
In addition to the wooden elements, warmth is created with the terracotta wall and pendant lighting that are in line with the pinks and green. The pendant lights frame the central communal table and the perimeter banquette seating while the ones on the walls tie the elements together and create variation.
The brass in the furniture detail adds notes of elegance to the overall design.
The contractor on the project was Blueprint, while the furniture suppliers were Interior 360 and Muuto and lighting was by Skylume.