Welcome to our Client Spotlight blog series, where we take a closer look at some of our favourite completed projects. Here we caught up with Scott O’Byrne and Tom Maher, co-owners of Kilder in Digbeth, Birmingham, to hear about what they wanted to achieve with the design…

The client

Kilder is the brainchild of fashion grads turned restaurateurs, Tom Maher and Scott O’Byrne. The two met while studying Fashion Design at Birmingham City University and later reunited when they got a job working for the same fashion label in the midlands. With a shared dream of opening their own restaurant, they eventually joined forces to develop Original Patty Men, the Birmingham-based gourmet burger joint with a cult following.

In its quirky location under the arches of an Industrial Revolution-era railway bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Original Patty Men has proven a huge success. So when the unit next door became available, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up – and thus, Kilder was born.

The brief: breaking free from the industrial aesthetic

“The idea initially was for us to have a space next to the restaurant where we could increase our customer base and give them somewhere to enjoy a further offering of what we’ve kind of got at the bar already,” explains Tom. With this in mind, Faber was enlisted to turn the new space into a chilled out bar with an adjoining courtyard – but with a completely different look and feel to the original restaurant. “We always knew we wanted to make it a separate brand,” says Scott. “But it’s very important that it still communicates our message all the way through.”

Kilder needed to differentiate itself from the other grungy venues occupying the many former factory buildings in Digbeth, so it was important for the design to avoid the ubiquitous industrial-style aesthetic. Instead, Tom and Scott wanted a cleaner, look and feel; one that hit the right note between clinical and rustic, for a polished finish that still had warmth and character.

“Although you can still tell it’s an industrial unit and that sort of space, it’s a lot more toned down and neutral with the use of natural materials and woods,” says Tom. “So it’s got an element of an homage to the industrial unit, but at the same time, it’s a lot more comfortable.”

Scott agrees: “It’s more of a place where you can sit and relax, whereas next door, we’re a burger restaurant so we have a high turnaround. In Kilder, we have people come in on a Sunday afternoon and they’re still here on a Sunday night. It’s a more relaxing atmosphere – and that’s exactly what we wanted from the design.”