Moving beyond the traditional reference points for Greek restaurants, think white stucco walls, Azure blue shutters and dark heavy timber furniture, Luchetti Krelle’s brief was to take influence from the history of the restaurants namesake Xanthi. A Greek town near the Turkish border, Xanthi was once conquered by the Ottomans and is famous for its weekly Bazaar. The design of the restaurant relates to the Byzantine era when the Turk’s ruled over parts of Greece.
The Turkish influence is seen through the tent like draped canopy and hand woven rugs as well as the mosaic glass pendant lights and handmade tiles. Like the grand bazaar in Istanbul, the space opens up from a narrow passageway alongside the walled in kitchen. The kitchen is enclosed on all sides by white tiled walls, reminiscent of Greek architecture, complete with small square windows providing the perfect view of the inner workings of the kitchen. While meat slowly turning on the spit can be seen through these windows the chef is visible on his stage of the raised kitchen floor and through the key-hole opening facing into the restaurant.
‘Xanthi’ means ‘girl with the golden hair’ and gold is used symbolically across the ceiling and around the room in the drapery. A custom carpet inlay plays on the idea of the wall to wall rugs seen in many Mediterranean restaurants. The booth seating has Turkish Kilims draped over them with mirrored bases to give the feeling that the rugs are floating off the floor. The dining chairs were selected for their form, suggestive of the form of fantastical flying carpets.
The constraints of the project lay in re-defining the typical dining experience expected in a shopping mall and challenging people’s preconceived notions of finding fine food offerings in what is essentially a food court.
Xanthi doesn’t disregard its surroundings but all the same it defines itself as an intimate and unique space offering a fresh, handmade, gourmet experience. The other challenge of the space was to create a venue that compliments the established design language of the public spaces. As a modernised take on a Greek building, the tiled Xanthi facade undulates with the form of the rest of the mall. It’s contrasting finishes only serve to attract the passerby’s attention.