PizzaExpress has revealed more details about its "living lab" in Richmond, south-west London, which opens this week full of new features that, if popular, will be used to refresh the estate next year.
The overall look of the restaurant is being masterminded by Ab Rogers, a designer whose credits include the Tate Modern and the reinvented Little Chef in Popham, with a key focus being the control of sound to create a convivial dining space. To that end, several acoustic-control features designed to help direct noise away from dining areas are on trial.
The pizza chain's "new-generation" restaurant has an acoustic ceiling installation with parabolic lighting domes that absorb sound. The site will also feature inbuilt speakers for customers' own iPods. Light from the domes can be dimmed by the customer with a "light up" button to signal when it's time for the bill.
Theatre director Karl James has also been drafted in to train staff in the art of conversation - a move that's been branded a "flirting masterclass" by the mainstream media - while Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton is advising the chain on its daytime offer to mothers and children.
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By Chris Druce
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