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The Plough

At a glance

Location

Central Oxford

Category

Hospitality & Retail

Date

2019

Size

470 sq m

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The Brief

We were instructed to execute the full design process in this historic building, right in the centre of Oxford.  Our brief covered everything, from Listed Building Consent, to the interior design.  The client wanted a design that referred back to the site’s original roots, but with a contemporary look and feel.  It was important that we reflected the local aspects of the restaurant, designing spaces to complement Oxford-based suppliers and produce.

Project Notes

A listed building dating back to the 1600s, The Plough is situated on the most central shopping street in Oxford. The building was an old, run-down men’s clothes shop and needed a lot of renovation.  Around the corner from many national food chains, the client was keen to give the restaurant a unique and local feel, with craft ale kegs supported from the ceiling and individual artwork and photographs.  We focused on giving the interior a modern Arts & Crafts twist, as most of the internal features dated back to this period.  The concept was to make the building bright and alluring, with strong colours and finishes.  We obtained approval to replace all of the ground floor shop windows with openable doors, to soften the boundary during good weather and encourage passers-by to pop in.  The patron toilets were installed in a single storey newer building to the back of the property, so we gave these a very different, more modern feel.

All of the bar joinery was designed and detailed by Element, using natural materials such as wood and copper.  This along with the bespoke banquette seating, was designed to complement the existing Arts & Crafts elements in the building.  Light fittings were chosen and colour coded to match the furniture, with a different arrangement downstairs to the first floor so that they related to one another but also felt different: more formal eating upstairs and a café/bar atmosphere on the ground floor.

“Element Studios pulled off a minor miracle, balancing the planning process for a historic listed building with the commercial demands of budget and timescale, while delivering a stunning design. The results speak for themselves. We have been busy since the day we opened and a large part of this is the atmosphere created by the design – in the restaurant as well as the bar. And this recognition is not just from a happy client – the Oxford Preservation Trust awarded us a Certificate in the 2019 Awards – all thanks to Element Studios.”
— Client