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Refettorio Felix: A London Soup Kitchen Designed by Ilse Crawford


Refettorio Felix: A London Soup Kitchen Designed by Ilse Crawford

April 12, 2018

“Beauty has no boundaries,” said acclaimed British designer Ilse Crawford at the June 2017 opening of Refettorio Felix, a community kitchen and dining hall in London. “It is a universal human right.”

The Refettorio (“refectory” in Italian) is the work of Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura through his charity, Food for Soul, in collaboration with The Felix Project, a UK nonprofit that delivers surplus, in-date food from supermarkets to charities that can use it to feed people in need. It functions as a services center and soup kitchen, serving restaurant-quality lunches to the homeless and hungry, five days a week.

The Refettorio is located at St. Cuthbert’s Community Centre, in the hall of a former Victorian-era church that’s been given a pro-bono redesign by Crawford (with architect Charles Wainright). For practical improvements, Crawford interviewed the center’s staff and volunteers to learn how the space could better serve its guests. Aesthetically, her aim was to beautify, adding a “universal pleasure that is often missing from social projects.” Let’s take a look.

Photography courtesy of Refettorio Felix.

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Above: Crawford paired pale green walls with houseplants to create a homelike feeling, and added white paper lanterns with warm white bulbs to bring the tall ceilings down.

The Refettorio is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which is one of the most economically divided boroughs in London.

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Above: With Crawford and Bottura at the helm of the project, a number of big players in the design world donated materials—including Mutina (furniture), Mylands (paint), and Royal Doulton (tableware). Vitra donated 60 Belleville dining chairs (designed by the Bouroullec brothers) from their own cafe in Germany.
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Above: The hall can also be rented out for private functions, which generates revenue to fund the Refettorio’s work. Others who want to see the space can Volunteer.

In addition to the dining hall, the building has a dedicated reading lounge, private counseling rooms, and comfortable seating for movie nights.

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Above: A lounge area at the end of the dining hall features a Tepee Sofa by SCP and a kilim rug by Larusi.
In May of 2017, Food for Soul received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to open two similar dining halls in US cities by 2019.

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Above: An elevated platform at one end of the hall can be used for performances, talks, and movie nights.
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Above: One of two Levistico Sideboards from Riva 1920, perched beneath Artemide’s Vigo sconce by David Chipperfield.
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Above: A glimpse into the Refettorio’s commercial kitchen.

For the kitchen’s opening last June, Mossimo Bottura served soup, pasta, and ice cream. For the rest of the month, other chefs took turns—including superstars Alain Ducasse and Margot Henderson.

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Above: The stainless steel kitchen is clad in tonal blue tile.
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Above: The redesign in progress.

For more favorite designs in London across our sites, see:

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Product summary  

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Tepee Sofa

$5,350.00 USD from The Future Perfect

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