Sketch unveils redesigned Gallery restaurant

Zoe Gunn

7 March 2022

Yinka Shonibare and India Mahdavi have given the famed dining room a fresh look

7 March 2022 | Zoe Gunn

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ketch’s Insta-famous Millennial pink Gallery restaurant is no more. Today the Michelin-starred Mayfair institution unveiled a fresh new look for its most famous dining room, with British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE and architect India Mahdavi responsible for the new interiors.

The pair are the latest in a stellar line of artists enlisted to design the restaurant, with previous collaborations including Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed and, most recently, David Shrigley, with the overhaul timed to celebrate Sketch’s twentieth anniversary.

The redesign sees Mahdavi swap the restaurant’s pastel pink walls for a bright sunshine-yellow hue, with the new colour palette complemented by diamond-patterned yellow banquettes and copper accents. The room will also be bathed in a golden glow courtesy of a refreshed lighting scheme.

Yinka Shonibare CBE, Modern Magic (Studies of African Art from Picasso’s Collection) XIII, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. © Stephen White & Co
Yinka Shonibare CBE, Modern Magic (Studies of African Art from Picasso’s Collection) XVIII, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. © Stephen White & Co

The space, meanwhile, remains an art lover’s paradise, showcasing a new custom installation by Shonibare. Titled Modern Magic, the work comprises four hand-painted wooden masks and ten framed batik quilts, replicating those found in Pablo Picasso’s personal collection.

Exploring the influence of African traditions on European culture, the masks are inspired by those originally used in African spiritual ceremonies which, in turn, have inspired Western Modernist artworks. With his installation, Shonibare aims to transform the Gallery restaurant into a conduit of the two: a space where culture, art and ideas can flow and be freely exchanged.

“After Matisse showed Picasso African art for the first time, it changed the history of modern art,” explains Shonibare. “Picasso was interested in appropriating from another culture, and I also appropriate from European ethnic art. Cultural appropriation can be a two-way street. This collaboration with Sketch has given me an opportunity to expand my creative process - creating a different environment to encounter and experience my art in a fun and relaxing setting.”

To complement Shonibare’s installation, the redesigned restaurant will also feature unique pieces created by African craftspeople. Wall lighting comes from Inès Bressand, who works with weavers in Ghana, while Senagalese fabrics have been sourced from Aissa Dione. Elsewhere, custom tableware by Shonibare and British heritage brand Caverswall will also debut while staff will be outfitted in new uniforms by French designer Sonia Taouhid, incorporating her signature frills and referencing the restaurant’s fresh colour scheme.

Image: Edmund Dabney

“The Gallery at Sketch has been linked to the colour pink for such a long time that it was very challenging for me to overcome this success,” admits Mahdavi. “Yinka’s artwork was a real inspiration and enticed me to work differently in this new version of the Gallery. Now textures will transcend colours with metallic copper wallpaper, Aissa Dione’s textured fabric and Inès Bressand’s woven wall-lights. These are elements that have allowed me to extend Yinka’s artistic exploration of culture and identity and bring a warm feel of Africa to the space and furnishings.”

Menus will also follow suit with head chef Pierre Gagnaire adding a number of new dishes in homage to the redesign, such as Yinka’s Rice: a classic West African Jollof rice studded with ginger, cumin and roasted plantain. Behind the bar, meanwhile, Luca Fugazza will be shaking up a new cocktail named Yinka Zobo: a blend of dark rum, pineapple liqueur, lime juice, honey syrup and Zobo mix (a Nigerian drink made from hibiscus flowers thought to aid fertility and support the digestive system).

And, since we know you’re going to ask, yes, the egg toilets are still there.

The Gallery at Sketch is open now, visit sketch.london

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