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Into the blue – how we picked two and created history

Mamma mia!

The expression you could read on our faces the first time the elevator doors opened and in front of us, just a few steps away, unfolded the best view of Bucharest. It was late 2015. The wintery, grey, snow-covered city with over 2 million citizens looked small from 136 meters about the ground.
We were on the top floor of Skytower, the tallest building in Romania, completed in 2013. The last 2 floors, no.35 and 36, were destined to become a huge, 1200 sqm restaurant, with an interior atrium. We were there to make a proposal for the interior design.

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The last two floors of Skytower were vacant for more than 2 years and there was a reason behind it. We soon discovered it when we began working on the plans for the restaurant: it was not cost-effective for a restaurant. Spectacular and imposing – yes, architecturally beautiful – yes, but if you wanted to create a restaurant, there was a lot of wasted space with the atrium and the staircase connecting the floors. We were left, from the beginning, into the blue, with what seemed to be an amazing chance, slowly slipping through our fingers.

So, we did what we do best: we picked two! And we decided to go for Quality and Effective costs, with no consideration for time restrictions.

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Our first proposal was to separate the two floors completely, change the architecture of the building and design a space for a restaurant only at the 36th floor. Of course, it came as a shock for the owners of the building, who were not considering this option. At first, we hit the “No” wall, but as we kept unfolding reasons, a “Maybe” answer appeared on the horizon.

We were asked to do a complete design for our proposal, that might or might not be accepted. It took over two months to create the concept, as we wanted to have a plan resembling an amphitheater: all of the seats to be exposed to the large windows, in order to pass to our guests the ”Mamma mia” feeling. We came up with a dinner / steakhouse mash-up with international cuisine, suited for both business lunches and romantic dinners. We wanted a space for everybody, as the restaurant has more than 200 seats.

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Also, a main focus point was the transition from darkness into the light. An elevator takes you to the 36th floor, and you enter a narrow, dark hallway. You see in the distance the bar and behind it a strong light coming from outside. Your eyes adapt to this contrast in a few seconds, as your first impression is that of walking trough the clouds.

Four months after our first visit we submitted the design and converted the “Maybe” into a “Yes”. It took six more months to create the technical projects for closing the atrium and staircase, and to get all the approvals. We began working inside the location in late 2016 and completed the fit out in May 2017.

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NOR – Sky casual restaurant became an instant hit. Now the restaurant is visited by more than 200.000 clients each year. It is not a story about spectacular interior design, unmatched details and concept, but rather a story about not giving up, about creativity and about patience.
NOR is not just a restaurant in the sky, on top of Bucharest, but a local landmark. It gives visitors a different, never seen before perspective on the city, a way to detach from the daily life, a sense of belonging to a better world, less noisy but filled with light.

In the past 2 years we managed to create 400.000 “Mamma mia” moments. This is what we strive for!

Sebastian Mîndroiu