The interior design project, by Dekleva Gregoric Architects, brings to light the original spaces in the restaurant
“Ek Bistro” in Ljubljana is always so crowded that it was not that easy to exchange a few words with the owner Blaz Draksler. But we were able to capture the essential things: in this venue, architecture and food are each part of the other and eggs are important.
They are super-busy – including Draksler – because they are, and continue to be, very successful, with customers arriving from all over the world. There have been people who come to the Slovenian capital for four days and every one of those four days have come to what is becoming the most popular bistro in the entire country.
The menu includes delicious breakfasts and brunches, including the French melt – a sandwich with onions, baked mushrooms and gruyere cheese – with a strawberry and kale smoothie, as well as sandwiches and cinnamon croissants fresh out of the oven and accompanied by home-made marmalade.
The stars of the menu are eggs, all 100% organic and cooked in many different ways: with salmon, or avocado, Florentine-style, Benedict, Royale.
“Ek Bistro” in Ljubljana offers a sweet awakening in Ljubljana, thanks to the interior design project by local firm Dekleva Gregoric Architects, which has long focused on creating unconventional spaces for tourists, never routine – the outcome of a participated process of dialogue and exchange between the architects and the clients. This is a sphere in which the architects have already won important acknowledgments: “Nanotourism”, the project for a more sustainable tourism developed in 2014, for example, won an award at the Design Biennale in Ljubljana.
They used the same approach with chef Gasper Habajec at “EK Bistro”, who wanted to explain what the essence of food and its social value meant to him, and decided as his first move to invite the architects to lunch, offering them a complete meal.
«Instead of a boring list of technical requirements, we got our brief on Saturday morning in the form of a complete brunch, for which the chef prepared the entire menu he would serve in the future bistro – say the architect. This delicious introduction helped us to understand the identity of the food, the importance of how it is prepared, and the complexity of the brunch ritual».
While we were discussing the food and the ingredients, from Eggs Benedict to Shakshuka, the designers conceptualized the project in relation to the menu.
The food does not hide the ingredients, on the contrary it openly reveals them. The decision was therefore to reveal the space just as openly.
The architects tore down the walls and ceiling, to discover the history of the space that had been buried under decades of plaster. The naked walls revealed memories of times gone by, with a mixed construction of brick and stone vaults and the brick typical of ground floors in the city buildings of the nineteenth century.
The white marble tables, custom-designed in the shape of a square slab supported by a network of black steel bars, is reminiscent of French bistros. The small size and shape make it possible to arrange the tables as required. The slender black structures are also found on the wall of the food shop in the form of a spatial structure that carries the custom-designed terracotta bowls and plates that define the shelves. Corten steel is used to frame all the irregularities in the openings of the walls, from the entrance door to the window while it completely encloses the cabinets with custom-sized partition walls.
“EK Bistro” is located in a space that was forgotten for a long time. Dating back to the nineteenth century, and built along the river bank, in the past it has been the location of a butcher shop and a wholesale wine shop.
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translation by Olga Barmine