A Touch of Italianità: Transforming Staff Dining

A Minimalist and Comfortable Dining Space and Urban Garden Café for Santoni

Founded in 1919, Santoni was the first Italian company to manufacture hosiery machines. Over the last twenty years, Santoni has developed a range of circular knitting machines for seamless knitwear, becoming a world leader in this technology.

Trusting in VIRTUARCH’s expertise, Santoni commissioned the Swiss architectural firm to design its new staff restaurant at its Shanghai plant. VIRTUARCH combined a minimalist, linear space with a natural and comfortable outdoor area to give the Santoni’s staff restaurant a new dynamic, combining the old canteen space with a new outdoor garden, bar area and transforming the formerly simple canteen space into a communication and cooperation space which can serve Santoni’s staff and visitors throughout the whole day. The design aims at creating a more comfortable space, inviting people to spend a bit more time and enjoy company while eating.

More Time, More Quality

The typical staff canteen is a space which is empty most of the time of the day; at peak time, hundreds of people will eat their lunch quickly, then they will leave. VIRTUARCH and Santoni agreed that this is not the environment they would like to create in the renovated staff dining area. While the need to serve a lot of meals in a relatively short time remains, VIRTUARCH’s design is an invitation to the staff of Santoni to spend more time in the space, to take the opportunity to talk to their colleagues from other departments and to stay for a coffee at the bar or in the garden.

Therefore, VIRTUARCH integrates an urban garden bar into the design of the staff dining area. During nice spring and autumn days, the windows of the canteen can be fully opened. Our goal is to create a young, urban atmosphere where staff interaction and creativity can bloom.

Connecting People and Nature

In addition to the sophisticated design and layout of the restaurant’s interiors, VIRTUARCH also placed great emphasis on creating an outdoor area to promote interaction between indoor and outdoor spaces and between people and nature. The transparent glass partition allows plenty of natural light into the interior, while the view outside enhances the dining experience for guests. The glass partition can be very easily opened to different widths depending on the situation, making it very user-friendly.

While the interior of the restaurant is decorated with straight lines, VIRTUARCH chose a more curvaceous design for the exterior. The dynamic curved shapes integrate better with the natural outdoor landscape. In addition, VIRTUARCH proposes planting spices which the restaurant manager can personally select in the built-in benches along the exterior of the Bio-Green Box.

Minimalist Design that Underlines the Character of the Brand

The entire project consists of a restaurant, a private VIP dining room, a kitchen, a lounge area, a drinks and ice cream bar, and a sanitary area. VIRTUARCH’s philosophy for this project was to create a functional space for Santoni that was simple and comfortable but also reflected the brand’s character. VIRTUARCH, therefore, combined the elements of the Santoni brand with a practical and minimalist design concept in several aspects, such as the interior colours and choice of materials, to create a beautiful and functional restaurant. With a lot of experience, the interior of the restaurant was connected with the exterior to promote spatial interaction and the interplay between humans and nature.

In choosing the colours for the restaurant’s interior, VIRTUARCH focuses on Santoni green, Santoni’s brand colour, and combines it with orange, white and grey, which are opposite. This colour combination is deliberate as it reflects the Santoni brand and gives the space a bright and interesting look, while the orange adds vibrancy and keeps the space simple but not too rigid.

In the dining area, in particular, the backdrop of the order area is a mix of tiles in different colours against a white background, giving it a sense of dynamism. The spacious dining area is well lit and the white colour scheme, along with the simple grey artificial stone and white terrazzo floor, made for a pleasant dining environment.

In its choice of furniture, VIRTUARCH also continues its philosophy of adding colour to its brand with green, orange and white chairs. The minimalist shape of the chairs with their different colours, unifies the entire dining environment while adding a splash of colour to the room. 

In addition to the refined choice of colours, the interior design is even more appealing: VIRTUARCH has taken inspiration from the lines of the Santoni logo and used the barcode as a prototype to create a single line with a colour combination for a panel used on the walls of the dining room. As you can see, VIRTUARCH has fully integrated the Santoni brand, using colours and lines to create a visually clean, comfortable linear space.

Finding Solutions for all Needs

As this project includes several areas with different functions, a corresponding layout is necessary to achieve a high quality of practicality and comfort. Thanks to VIRTUARCH’s expertise and experience in the field of architecture, the Santoni restaurant is divided clearly and functionally.
In the dining area, VIRTUARCH has created various seating areas, including a normal table for six, a custom-made round sofa for groups, and high tables with stools. The seating is for intimate communication and relaxation. There is a special VIP dining area with direct access from the showroom area for important get-togethers. 
Acoustics and odour are two key issues in canteens; having a lot of people using the space at the same time, VIRTUARCH designs an acoustic ceiling and sound-absorbing acoustic panels at the walls to allow people to have a chat. The odour issue is addressed by having a fresh air system and exhaust systems with sufficient capacity.

VIRTUARCH has also redesigned the toilet area by expanding the space and creating a new hand-washing area in the aisle to increase the convenience of guests. VIRTUARCH has enlarged the toilet area to ensure that it is not crowded and uncomfortable, even during busy periods. The sleek design and bright lighting make the entire toilet area look immaculate and tidy and make it easier for staff to clean up afterward.

As always, VIRTUARCH has paid attention to detail, such as using different coloured walls in gender-specific washrooms. VIRTUARCH has also created a new hand-washing area in the corridor leading to the toilets to accommodate the different needs of customers and cleverly divided the area to reduce crowding at peak times.

With this design, an extremely comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for visitors and guests has been created. Staff-friendly solutions have been considered, and the individual character of the Santoni Family brand is successfully brought to life.

Project Name: Santoni Restaurant

Plot Area: ShanghaiP.R.China

GFA: 870 m2

Project Timeline: 2021-2022

Service: Interior Design and Landscape Design

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