Restaurant Hattusa opens at Sevenoaks

Hattusa Restaurant – Sevenoaks

Inan Gokcek studied interior design in Turkey and after working in the industry for 10 years, he returned to university and completed a degree in architecture which, he says, gave me a new perspective in my career and also enlarged my “playground’’.

Inan now practices from his Hackney based design studio, Studio Anares, on projects stretching from furniture design to small-scale architecture, while interior design is the main focus.

When Inan was approached by Sefa Karatay to design a new Turkish restaurant he felt it important to explore a little more about Turkish (Anatolian) history and culture; to ensure that the interior design was just as much a cultural experience as the food. Also to explore the deep connections between craft, design, architecture and history.

I looked at the Hittites, which is an ancient civilization that lived in Anatolia region about 3500 years ago and had their capital called Hattusa, which became the name of the restaurant.

The Hittites were a very advanced society in many areas such as architecture, philology, war technologies and gastronomy and left an amazing heritage behind.

By looking at these, I tried to reflect their language and signs, objects and architecture in everything from the menus to the logo and to the walls – in a contemporary way.

Carving on rocks (cuneiform) was almost the only way to communicate in Hittite times and as they left amazing script and symbols on the rocks in Hattusa, I wanted to try this on the walls. We first tried to carve on basic plaster which didn’t give us the right firmness to do that. I also thought about a CNC cutting/carving method but concluded that it would look too fabricated and therefore the end result would be very artificial.

Inan then discovered Clayworks. Raw clay plasters differ from many other plasters because they do not contain any lime, gypsum or synthetics. Unlike lime-based plasters for example, pure earthen plasters do not go through a chemical reaction as they naturally air dry. Consequently, they not only retain their intriguing tonal patina, but their extraordinary textures, sculptures and sharp definitions.

I wanted to ask for help and this how I met Adam Weismann (founder of Clayworks) and Guy Valentine (Master Artisan Plasterer) who made this project possible.

I sent them a quick presentation and they were very helpful: Adam sent me a carving sample (which later became an art work on my studio wall!) that made it clear that I had to go for this material. After that Guy came to the studio a few times and we planned the next steps including the right type of clay and how we could apply it on the walls.

Hattusa is now a stunning demonstration of how a great and forward thinking designer may use the unique performance attributes of clay plasters to add drama and story telling to create an inimitable and distinctive interior environment, with character built into every corner of the restaurant.

I would like to thank to the restaurant owner, Mr Sefa Karatay, for his faith in this ambitious project: in the design, the materials and in Guy Valentine for bringing to life the designs.

Hattusa is currently the Number One rated restaurant in Sevenoaks according to Trip Advisor.

For additional pictures please see our gallery feature. The photos were taken by Chris Snook and courtesy of Studio Anares.