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Palace Restaurant Helsinki by NOTE Design Studio

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Photograph: Romain Laprade

The  spearhead  of  Finnish  gastronomy,  restaurant  Palace  was  first  opened  in  1952  in  tandem  with  Hotel  Palace,  right  in time  to  welcome  the guests arriving  to  spectate  the  Helsinki  Summer  Olympics.  

Designed  by  Finnish  architects  Viljo  Revell  and  Keijo  Petäjä,  the  modernist  building,  often  described  as  the  business  card  of  the  Finnish  art industry,  took  the  shape  of  a  big  ocean  ship.  Part  of  the  inspiration  was  derived  from  the  masterpieces  of  Le  Corbusier  and  the  end  product  is  a picture-perfect  example  of  modernism.  

Rising  above  the  harbour  of  Eteläranta,  the  crown  jewel  of  the  building  was  the  big  neon  sign  that  stood  proud  above  the  Baltic  sea,  emanating its  trademark  yellow  glow.

The  restaurant,  originally  adjacent  to  Hotel  Palace,  was  always  at  the  forefront  of  gastronomy.  In  1987,  it  became  the  first  Finnish  restaurant  to be  awarded  a  Michelin  star.  By  then,  the  restaurant  had  secured  its  position  as  the  place  where  business  deals  were  drafted  and  signed, important  press  events  took  place  and  celebrations  were  held.  It  remains  an  icon  of  both  Finnish  gastronomy  and  restaurant  culture  –  a  bastion the  glory  of  what  used  to  be  and  what  will  be  again.

The  modernist  building  has  undergone  a  total  renovation,  including  a  remodelling  of  restaurant  Palace’s  interiors.  The  restaurant  with  its  impressive festive  spaces  on  the  building’s  10th  floor  has  been  gifted  a  new  identity  built  to  honour  the  restaurant’s  roots.  The  project  received  approval from  the  Helsinki  City  Museum  and  the  restaurant’s  pure  1950s  modernism  has  been  updated  to  a  2020s  Finland.

When  restaurant  Palace  approached  NOTE  Design  Studio,  they  didn’t  ask  for  a  modern  and  trendy  interior.  On  the  contrary,  they  asked  for something  that  will  withstand  time  and  honour  the  history  and  tradition  of  Palace.

The  complexity  of  this  challenge,  as  well  as  the  ambition  of  everyone  involved  opened  up  the studio's  ability  to  think  about  the  details,  from material  choices,  the  iconic  teak  veneered  elevators  and  walls  to  the  customer  experience.

During  the  construction  of  palace,  NOTE  Design  Studio  worked  closely  with  SARC  Architects  and  Skanska  and  had  long  conversations  with  the client,  discussing  everything  from  colour  choices  to  custom-made  trolleys.  The  dialogue  continued  with  the  chefs,  who  talked  about  the  tone  of voice  of  the  table  setting.

At  Palace,  every  detail  has  been  carefully  thought  of,  not  only  in  the  interior  design,  but  also  in  the  collaboration  with  Agency  Leroy  on  the graphic  elements,  to  ensure  that  the  palette  was  elegant  and  sophisticated,  yet  warm  and  welcoming.

As NOTE describes, "we imagined,  not  what  Palace  could  be,  but  what  it  should  be.  For  NOTE,  the  space  should  not  only  convey  a  sense  and respect  for  tradition,  and highlight  the  local  atmosphere,  but  also  be  expressive  on  its  own".

“Having  spent  most  of  my  life  in  Helsinki,  working  with  Palace  has  been  a  humbling  experience.  We  were  given  a  chance  to  influence  the  interior of  a  space  I  have  known  since  I  was  a  child.  I  remember  my  grandfather  speaking  about  Palace  and  its  grandeur.  Being  given  the  change  to create  the  new  Palace  is  far  beyond  what  I  ever  imagined”. My  Degerth,  interior  architect  at  NOTE  Design  Studio.

Palace’s  new  identity  has  been  carefully  crafted  by  Agency  Leroy,  a  creative  agency  based  a  stone’s  throw  away  from  restaurant  Palace,  located  in Eteläranta,  Helsinki.  Reviving  the  legendary  restaurant  started  with  a  thorough  dig  through  the  restaurant’s  vast  archives.  Years  of  photos,  menus and  logo  drafts  were  gone  through  to  find  a  direction  for  the  Palace  of  the  future.

Palace  has  always  been  a  trendsetter  that  values  traditional  craftsmanship.  We  felt  like  the  new  identity  should  be  a  nod  to  the  values  of  Palace, while  also  retaining  a  sense  of  moving  forward  in  time.  It  was  about  time  that  Palace  reclaimed  its  position  amongst  top-tier  international restaurant  influencers.  

The  identity  update  included  a  new  logo,  printed  material  and  a  wide  photography  concept  that  all  reflect  what  Palace  will  be  in  the  2020s  and beyond.

Posted by Magda Tsolaki
Posted on August 30th, 2018
in Interiors, Gastronomy, Agency Leroy, Note Design Studio & Palace Restaurant