Lagranja uses analogue photography to create nostalgia for Istanbul-based Monochrome cafe

Monochrome Brasserie Istanbul, Designed by Lagranja, plays with old images and analogue photography to create a warm and nostalgic experience.

Barcelona and Istanbul-based design studio Lagranja, has rehabilitated a space situated in one of the oldest breweries in Istanbul founded a century ago by the Bomonti Brothers from Switzerland. The design team, led by Lagranja’s founders Gabriele Schiavon and Gerard Sanmartí, made a statement using the traditional elements of a photo studio, such as light boxes, diffusers, and umbrellas which are displayed in every single corner of Monochrome Brasserie.

The client for this project was a Turkish hospitality and leisure group named D.ream, which owns around 170 outlets.

“At the time, we had worked with them once in one of our biggest bar and restaurant design projects – The Populist. Both The Populist and Monchrome are located at Bomontiada, an old factory style building that was the first ever brewery in Turkey, founded more than a century ago,” says Gabriele Schiavon, adding that the team knew the client’s style and expectations for its new venue.

As for the brief, the space was connected to the first Leica concept store and gallery in Turkey, so Schiavon and his team decided to play with the idea of analogue photography, creating a certain sense of nostalgia.

“And since we live in a digital image time now, there was a bit of nostalgia. So a lot of the elements of the space are created to emulate photography paraphernalia. The counter and some tables are created as light boxes and filled with old slides. By the way, those are real pictures of Turkish things and people, since our team went all over the flea markets of Istanbul looking for old pictures and slides. Decorative lights fixtures are designed to recall light diffusers,” says Schiavon.

More directly, photography books are displayed all over the place to be enjoyed by the customers while old cabinets showcase old cameras. Finally, the beautiful work of the Turkish photographer Tahsin Aydogmus is shown on the walls of the venue.

“Aydogmus’ work usually deals with typical scenes from contemporary Turkey, but also traditions and popular culture, which is a great way of connecting the place to (and of course honouring) the local culture,” adds Lagranja’s co-founder Gerard Sanmartí.

The Monochrome colour palette is true to its name; it’s as monochrome as it can be.

“We wanted clients to focus on the pictures, so the colour palette is very soft, and it emanates mostly from the use of the wood, mostly the oak wood lattice,” says Sanmartí.

This low-rise space is graced by furniture specially designed by Lagranja.

A very special area at Monochrome Brasserie is where its high-back sofas are placed, below a louvre where Aydogmus’ images are spread out on a shelf.

“We always create site specific and bespoke pieces for each of our interior designs that we usually create in Barcelona and transport to the site. In this case, since we have an office in Istanbul, we worked with local suppliers that did a great job,” explains Sanmartí.

Once inside, the visitor can feel the resemblance to a photo studio, with different pieces created to work as a lightbox displaying diapositive slides.

The concept is also visible in the bar designed to be a huge lightbox where the visitor can spot a collection of diapositive slides found by the studio members in Istanbul flea markets.

Old camera showcases and photography books complete the setting and give a great atmosphere to this new and trendy space.

The design duo chooses the oak wood lattice used on the walls as their favourite design feature.

They explain: “It’s beautiful because we love natural wood; it’s useful since it also serves as a room divider and space organiser, but mainly because it’s an understated, natural material that highlights the artwork shown at the place.”

The Bomonti area is named after Adolf and Walter Bomonti, founders of the first brewery in Turkey, and has a vibrant and cosmopolitan essence.

About Lagranja

Lagranja’s story goes back to 1998, when its founders, Gabriele Schiavon and Gerard Sanmartí, met at Fabrica, the communication research centre at Treviso in Italy.

“That’s when the partnership, fun and a few heated disagreements, started… and we haven’t stopped working together since,” says Schiavon.

In 2002, they founded Lagranja Design, a multidisciplinary design studio, designing products and interiors.

“The spaces we create always have some storytelling. We want their users to look for the stories behind the objects. We want to surprise, not to overwhelm,” explain the founders.

In 2010 their adventure took them to Hong Kong, and later to Singapore. A year later, they opened an office in Istanbul, partnering with Tunga Taysal.

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