Highly Commended: Small Interior of the Year 2018. Studioilse was asked to design the interiors for Refettorio Felix, a community kitchen and dining hall.
The studio's founder Ilse Crawford's primary aim was to add beauty to the space, formerly St Cuthberts Community Centre, an element that she claims is often missing from social projects.
The studio designed an interior to support the belief of non-profit organisation Food for Soul's founder Massimo Bottura that "the gesture of sitting down to a meal and breaking bread together is the first step toward rebuilding dignity and creating community”.
Working with a tight budget, Studioilse focused on interventions that would effectively create a warm and comfortable space that would encourage people to stay and socialise, whilst showing that people cared. The studio began the process by asking staff and volunteers who worked at the centre how the space could be improved for both them and their guests.
"As a studio we have always aimed to balance the work we are paid for with work with projects with a social dimension where there is no or a limited budget, particularly in relation to the homeless and mental health. The brief was simple: to make it beautiful, a universal pleasure that is often missing from social projects. This not only brings dignity to the space but also – rather more pragmatically – makes a space that is welcomed by the community and attractive to hire after hours," said Crawford.
It was considered by the studio that by making the kitchen and dining room more attractive for hire, it would also help fund and sustain the project.