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Photograph: Courtesy of Sketch

Sketch’s iconic restaurant has been given an arty redesign

Yinka Shonibare CBE and India Mahdavi have transformed the eatery’s Gallery dining room

Rhian Daly
Written by
Rhian Daly

You’ll probably be familiar with what Sketch’s restaurant, the Gallery, looks like, even if you’ve never set foot inside it. Its David Shrigley-designed baby-pink interior and egg-shaped loos are regular stars of the Instagram feeds of Londoners and beyond. 

The number of times you see Sketch on your endless scroll each weekend might not be about to change, but some of its decor will look slightly different. The Gallery restaurant has been given a big, bright and arty redesign by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE and architect India Mahdavi, featuring all-new artwork and interiors. 

Next time you visit the iconic restaurant (which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year), you’ll be greeted by new sunshine-yellow furniture in a copper-walled room, courtesy of Mahdavi. Shonibare, meanwhile, has created 14 new site-specific artworks that together form an installation called ‘Modern Magic’. 

The series celebrates African culture and its legacy through different media, including four hand-painted, wood-carved masks and ten framed quilts that replicate the African masks once owned by Pablo Picasso. Other unique pieces will also be added to the display, from the likes of textile designer Aissa Dione, whose work uses Senegalese fabrics. 

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‘After Matisse showed Picasso African art for the first time, it changed the history of modern art,’ Shonibare said in a press release. ‘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.’ 

‘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,’ Mahdavi added. ‘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.’

To complement the new restaurant design, chef Pierre Gagnaire has created a new dish in tribute to Shonibare. ‘Yinka Rice’ will take the form of a West African jollof rice scented with ginger and cumin, and served with spice tomato, soy sauce and roasted plantain. Bar director Luca Fugazza has also created a new cocktail, called the Yinka Zobo – featuring dark rum, pineapple liqueur, lime juice, honey syrup, ginger beer and a zobo mix made from hibiscus flower. 

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