Dining tables in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten

Krøyer & Gatten celebrates the 1960s and 70s in design for Aarhus restaurant Substans

Michelin-starred Aarhus restaurant Substans has moved to a new harbour-side location, designed by local studio Krøyer & Gatten to feel like a Danish home from 50 years ago.

The new Substans, which opened in mid-2019, is located on the 11th floor of a new block in the docklands area of Aarhus, Denmark.

Interior of Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans is a Michelin-starred restaurant in Aarhus

The restaurant, owned by chef René Mammen and his wife Louise, serves Nordic-style cuisine. But there is no à la carte menu – diners are instead served tasting menus filled with highly technical dishes.

Krøyer & Gatten, which specialises in both architecture and carpentry,  designed the interior of the new space with a similar approach, aiming to celebrate Danish design heritage but to give it a contemporary twist.

Window in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
The design takes its cues from residential interiors of the 1960s and 70s

Studio co-founder Kristian Gatten said they did this by referencing interior design from the 1960s and 70s.

"The idea behind the interior was to create a cosy intimate space," he told Dezeen, "with inspiration from architects such as Friis and Moltke, Alvar Aalto and Jørgen Bækmark."

Bar in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
The simple materials palette includes oak, bricks and ceramic tiles

Gatten and partner Philip Krøyer chose materials that are both retro and humble, with distinct references to traditional home interiors. For example, the kitchen features simple brown tiles, while the terrazzo-topped bar is made from white-painted brickwork.

The dining room is designed to feel simple but homely, with Dinesen oak flooring, pale curtains and wooden furniture.

Table in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
The aim was to create the right atmosphere to accompany the food

"Visiting a Michelin restaurant should be a holistic experience," said Gatten, "an experience with great food and wine, but also a great atmosphere and interior/spatial experience."

The key to achieving this, he said, was in "creating small stories and spatial experiences within the restaurant".

Pantry in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
A shelving grid creates the feeling of a pantry in one area

This meant that the dining space was divided into four zones, each with its own domestic-inspired design concept: the entrance, the pantry, the kitchen and the dining room.

The entrance space is designed to feel welcoming, with the oak door and slatted wall offering a distinct change in material from the raw concrete of the lobby before it.

Mirror in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Shelves are dotted with jars of food, wine glasses and plants

The pantry, which forms the first section of the dining room, is flanked by a large wooden shelving grid, dotted with jars of dried and preserved food, wine glasses and plants.

The kitchen area, which includes the bar and the tables in front, has an open and casual feel, because diners are able to see their food and drinks being prepared. By contrast, the dining room at the rear is more secluded.

Artwork in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Krøyer & Gatten designed and built most of the solid oak furniture pieces

Krøyer & Gatten designed and built many of the Substans furniture pieces, including round tables covered with blue linoleum, simple bench seats and curve-backed chairs.

These solid oak pieces all have visible fixings, so that they could be easily repaired or disassembled in the future.

Chair in Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Visible fixings allow these pieces to be easily repaired or disassembled

These are complemented by classic pieces, including pendant lights designed by Poul Henningsen in the 1950s and a set of chairs designed by JL Møllers Møbelfabrik in 1962, which were manufactured locally.

Photography is by Martin Gravgaard.

More images and plans

Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten floor plan
Floor plan with zone concept
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten detailed floor plan
Detailed floor plan
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten section one
Section facing bar
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten section two
Section facing window
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten
Substans restaurant in Aarhus by Krøyer & Gatten