Kolamba, Soho

Studio Fils created a tropical and modern space for Sri Lankan restaurant sensation, Kolamba, located in the heart of Soho in London, England.

  • area / size 1,300 sqft
  • Year 2019
  • Type Restaurant,
  • Kolamba is the latest and greenest Sri Lankan sensation to hit Soho. Bringing bold flavours from a small island, the newly opened venue is the first project to open its doors by young interior designer Annie Harrison, since going at it solo as Studio Fils.

    The restaurant is next door to Dishoom, on Kingly Street in the Carnaby area of Soho, and diners are treated to a space like no other in Soho.

    Aushi and Eroshan Meewella, Kolamba’s founders and first time restauranteurs who are originally from Colombo, have created a menu that ignites nostalgia growing up; eating with friends and family, full of home recipes that’ve been passed onto them. The restaurant’s team will be almost fully Sri Lankan, and hopes to evoke a sense of community with personal, named dishes such as ‘Aunty Mo’s ‘Chatti’ Roast, and ‘Vaira’s Jaggery Beef’. Other offerings include delectable string hoppers, and there’s plenty of vegan options too.

    The scheme devised by Studio Fils in collaboration with the Meewella’s, is a homage to the Tropical Modernism movement of Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Their insights on traditional and modernist design from the country informed and developed Annie’s concept – shaping the storytelling of the two-floor venue.

    On the ground floor, walls are swathed in polished cement and a lengthy, linen piped leather and concrete banquette sits opposite a 4 metre long, raw wood live edge dining counter, with modernist stools and huge batik art – designed especially for the space in Sri Lanka. A bespoke terrazzo has been created exclusively for the restaurant (a common material found on the island), which has been used over the tables and ground floor open-kitchen dining counter, adding to the theatre of the chef’s traditional cooking techniques.

    Downstairs, it’s not your average Soho basement. White, airy and bright, Annie has made the most of uncovering the glass pavement tiles to allure natural light towards the downstairs dining space. Plenty of greenery instils a tropical vibe, with chunky concrete seating areas divided with twisted wooden screens, allowing light and plants to stir freely. The pièce de résistance of the space has to be the chunky, supersize terrazzo cocktail bar. Inspired by the first small scale terrazzo created for the project, Annie commissioned it to be made from large, broken chunks of teal marble set into white resin, an impressive and sustainable design decision to finish off the otherwise neutral and earthy palette.

    We created a tropical, modernist Sri Lankan space that speaks the language of the island – and compliments the traditional home cooking on offer – inspired by the Tropical Modernism movement of famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa.

    This is a space like no other within the usually dark surroundings of soho restaurants – the space is light and airy with an emphasis on the natural palette and materials

    The basement supersize chunky Terrazzo bar was commissioned to be made from broken offcuts of marble, set into a resin. We rescued as many existing items from site as possible; refashioning a cage into a plant trelis, reusing old table bases and sourcing vintage chairs so as not to buy new ones, along with sourcing vintage lighting rather than specifying fully new fittings.

    Design: Studio Fils
    Photography: Jamie Lau