Case Study

Polpo at Ape & Bird, London


REF: 9314

The Brief

Having acquired this huge new site in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, well-respected restaurateur Russell Norman set about transforming this beautiful yet rather run down building. A completely different type of venue from his successful chain of much smaller Italian restaurants, Polpo and Polpetto, Russell wanted to create a new public house with a contemporary British twist. In a prime position at the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and West Street, in the heart of London’s Theatreland and near to Oxford Street, it was going to be huge challenge. As with his other restaurants, Russell’s designs mix substantial reclaimed artefacts with reclaimed furnishings. He appointed soda to facilitate the designs and layouts and, once again, contacted Craftwood about being involved with the vast amount of bespoke fixed seating required…we were of course delighted to be working with Russell again having been involved with most of his projects thus far. We worked closely with Russell and soda to ensure that the seating worked with the intended character of the interior design, as well as within budget. We also worked alongside main contractor duBoulay Contracts to ensure accurate measures and timings.

  • Tick iconLondon
  • Tick iconBanquette Seating
  • Tick iconBench Seating
  • Tick iconButton Back
  • Tick iconFluted Back
  • Tick iconTurned legs

Interior Design

Russell Norman and soda (Studio of Design and Architecture)

The Solution

The basement bar known as the Dive can accommodate 60 guests. With beautiful caramel coloured leather banquettes with traditional deep buttoned backs and clever lighting, the area makes for a cosy and inviting environment to enjoy a relaxing after work drink or two!


On the ground floor, the space is cleverly visually divided into two distinct zones – a public bar area in the same caramel leather and a restaurant with luxurious green leather upholstered fluted back seating. The divide is further enhanced with a change of floor finish with bold coloured chequered tiles in the bar, and a stained timber floor in the dining area. The 120 cover restaurant continues on the first floor in a similar vein and takes full advantage of large windows on 3 sides letting light flood in. Much of the seating has timber legs to the front but with a set-back plinth behind…this helps to give the appearance of the seating being free-standing but eases the cleaning process for staff considerably and also provides discreet storage under the seats if required.


Craftwood also provided the timber clad “tram style” seating that forms an unusual and eye-catching feature in the ground floor public bar area.


An aesthetically pleasing, warm, friendly and welcoming environment has been created here for all to enjoy. Craftwood would like to wish Good Luck to Russell Norman and his team in this new venture!

“I’m really pleased with the lovely seating Craftwood created for The Ape & Bird Public House. This project had a greater emphasis on carpentry than with previous projects and Craftwood rose to the challenge with some beautiful results.”

Russell Norman

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