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Nina+Co designs zero waste restaurant Silo

Zero-waste pioneer and award-winning chef, Douglas McMaster, has packed up his bags and moved his restaurant from the bustling Laines of Brighton to a new Hackney Wick home.

15/10/2020 2 min read

Project Team

  • Client

    Crate Brewery

  • Designer


  • Furniture Provider


  • Flooring

    The Colour Flooring Company

  • Furniture

    Jan Hendzel, Grown, Tŷ Syml, &Tradition, Menu, Mater, Innermost, Tala

  • Surfaces

    Buxkin, Smile Plastics

Describing itself as a restaurant designed from back to front, always with the bin in mind, Douglas’s approach is threaded throughout the whole restaurant and its supply chains – from trading directly with farmers to composting scraps to ‘close the loop’ in the food production process.

Housed on the upper floor of The White Building, Silo’s interiors are designed by Nina+Co, an interior design studio renowned for its focus on sustainable design. Founded in 2014 by Nina Woodcroft, the studio believes it is a designer’s responsibility to reduce environmental impact and promote wellbeing.

Working very closely with Douglas on the design and following Silo’s post-industrial ethos, Nina+Co opted to work with local crafts people using age-old techniques, as well as using innovative materials and technologies such as recycled plastics and mycelium.

Entering the restaurant from a cast-iron staircase next to a graffiti covered bridge, guests are greeted by a contrasting minimalist interior. A host stand formed from timber offcuts, which have been laminated together and sculpted back into the likeness of a tree stump, sits below lights from Ty Smyl, moulded from seaweed and combined with paper waste to create sturdy and organic looking pendants.

‘A few pioneering and high-quality materials, a very crafted process, and a zero-waste mentality form the basis of the design,’ says Nina. ‘The aim is to close the loop, with an interior composed from waste or thoughtfully sourced, natural materials, that will either biodegrade or easily disassemble for repurposing in the future.’

30 bespoke wall lights were designed especially for Silo by Nina+Co. Created by a local potter using crushed wine bottles from the restaurant, they feature an exposed bulb in the centre. Through a unique, reduced-energy glass recycling process developed in-house by Douglas, the crushed glass is moulded and fired in a kiln to create the lights, which can be crushed and recycled again and again.

The flooring is created from natural cork – a carbon negative product harvested by hand, of course, from the bark of the cork oak without harming the tree. Cork oak forests capture five times more CO2 than is used in the manufacture of the flooring.

An 18-seater dining bar overlooks the kitchen worktop. The bar wrapped in recycled leather and the dining counter is formed of polyester packaging waste by Smile Plastics.

Distinctive, three-legged, round dining tables and a 5m long waiter station were designed by Nina+Co and crafted locally by craftsman Jan Hendzel in his Woolwich workshop from sustainably sourced English ash.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the cocktail lounge furniture; round mushroom-like seats with simple cylindrical tables topped with glass – all grown to order for the project from mycelium, a renewable raw material that is fully compostable at the end of usefulness.

Battered by the recent pandemic like the rest of the hospitality world, Silo has recently reopened cautiously, offering wine and small plates of sustainable food.

Uncompromising in its mission, Silo sets a bar for the increasingly popular zero-waste concept within the food industry, providing diners with an immersive and unique experience through organic, thoughtful design.

Photography: Sam Harris

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