When Maaemo – a three-star Michelin restaurant in Oslo's trendy Barcode neighbourhood – tasked Norwegian firm Radius Design with updating its interiors, Swedish furniture brand Fogia was the company's first choice. We take a look inside the exclusive redesign.

The lounge downstairs at Oslo restaurant Maaemo is furnished with several Fogia designs, including its Bollo chair, Barba armchair, Tiki sofa and Supersolid table

Timeless gastronomy design with Fogia | News

The lounge downstairs at Oslo restaurant Maaemo is furnished with several Fogia designs, including its Bollo chair, Barba armchair, Tiki sofa and Supersolid table

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  • Barba

    Barba

    Fogia

  • Tiki 3 seat

    Tiki 3 seat

    Fogia

  • Bollo

    Bollo

    Fogia

What's in a chair

Restaurant dining chairs tend to be regarded as merely functional, inconsequential elements subsumed by the theatrical décor of restaurants as a whole. Yet for architects, interior designers and restaurateurs, characterful seating plays an important role in establishing the style of a restaurant, be it an existing one ripe for a makeover or a new one.

The concept of a Gesamkunstwerk which arose in the 19th century assigned equal importance to every facet of an interior, from chairs to door handles. The movement saw architects design entire buildings and their interiors, often collaborating with like-minded craftsmen to create aesthetically cohesive environments. And this caught on in restaurant interiors, too, a seminal example being The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, co-designed in 1903 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. Its pièce de résistance was its Salon de Luxe whose flamboyant chairs with silver frames and purple velvet seats toned harmoniously with the room’s lilac stained-glass panels. These high-backed chairs served a functional role, too, giving those seated greater privacy.


For architects, interior designers and restaurateurs, characterful seating plays an important role in establishing the style of a restaurant, be it an existing one ripe for a makeover or a new one


More recently, when India Mahdavi redesigned The Gallery in London venue Sketch in 2016 – one of the most Instagrammed interiors of recent years – she included her chair called the Charlotte whose finger-like backrests wittily allude to the sponge fingers on a Charlotte cake. So iconic did the blush-pink tub chairs become that they were auctioned off by 1st Dibs when Mahdavi recently redesigned the venue with artist Yinka Shonibare.

  • Bollo Spisolini

    Bollo Spisolini

    Fogia

Gracing the restaurant at Maeemo, Fogia’s robust, super-comfortable Spisolini chair (top) lends itself to unhurried conversation while its moodily lit lounge (bottom) includes Fogia designs like the Barba armchair, Supersolid table and Bollo chair

Timeless gastronomy design with Fogia | News

Gracing the restaurant at Maeemo, Fogia’s robust, super-comfortable Spisolini chair (top) lends itself to unhurried conversation while its moodily lit lounge (bottom) includes Fogia designs like the Barba armchair, Supersolid table and Bollo chair

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  • Barba

    Barba

    Fogia

  • Bollo

    Bollo

    Fogia

A bespoke seating experience

One brand all too familiar with the impact restaurant chairs can have is Swedish design company and furniture manufacturer Fogia. Its Spisolini dining chair, created in collaboration with Norwegian designer Andreas Engevisk, was specified by Norwegian interiors firm Radius Design when it redesigned the three Michelin-starred restaurant Maaemo in Oslo’s Barcode neighbourhood, also home to the city’s new Munch Museum.

Maaemo has a minimal yet atmospheric interior with charcoal grey walls, although dark wood floors, panelling and tables add warmth to the space. All its Spisolini chairs are a bespoke version of the original design – including arms which are 3cm wider, rendering them suitable for the indulgent dining experience offered by Maaemo. Spisolini, which pairs a contemporary slimline, tubular frame cushioned at the back, seat and arms with squashy upholstery, is ideal as a dining chair, given its relatively narrow width and deep seat, the latter conducive to unhurried, postprandial conversation. The mid-century modern-inspired design is a clever hybrid of an armchair and a dining chair; it crosses the boundary between functional and recreational seating.


Spisolini is ideal as a dining chair, given its relatively narrow width and deep seat – its mid-century modern-inspired design cleverly crosses the boundary between functional and recreational seating


'Radius Design, which initiated this collaboration, was in search of the perfect dining chair – one that is exquisite, enriches the restaurant’s interior, and is supremely comfortable,' explains Pål Reenskaug, Country Manager Norway for Fogia. 'Spisolini fits the tough requirements for comfort and good design stipulated by Radius Design. Customers at Maeemo typically have leisurely dinners that last up to six hours.'

  • Barba

    Barba

    Fogia

A pair of neutral Barba armchairs takes on a sculptural quality in a curated corner of the space (top), while the blue and bottle green upholstery of other Fogia designs looks especially rich against the dark-wood panelling of Maaemo’s lounge (bottom)

Timeless gastronomy design with Fogia | News

A pair of neutral Barba armchairs takes on a sculptural quality in a curated corner of the space (top), while the blue and bottle green upholstery of other Fogia designs looks especially rich against the dark-wood panelling of Maaemo’s lounge (bottom)

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  • Barba

    Barba

    Fogia

  • Barba

    Barba

    Fogia

Designs for the ages

Fogia designs have had their fair share of good publicity recently: actor and singer Zendaya was pictured ensconced in a Bollo chair in British Vogue last year, and the model was also included in a pop-up store at iconic London department store Selfridges. Spisolini on the other hand, is now one of Norway’s best-selling chairs, and is also popular in Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

Spisolini’s success led Fogia to expand its product range within Maaemo: proprietor Esben Holmboe Bang acquired Fogia’s Bollo – the lounge chair equivalent of Spisolini – Barba and Tiki (a three-seater sofa) and Supersolid tables for the downstairs lounge. Here the furniture looks particularly inviting, its rich colours, including cognac and bottle green upholstery, appearing almost jewel-bright against the sombre wood panelling.

  • Bollo

    Bollo

    Fogia

Bollo chairs with a glossy cognac-coloured upholstery, fronted by a Supersolid table, near Maeemo’s impressive wine cellar (top); other Bollo chairs, upholstered in a matt, dusty pink shade (bottom)

Timeless gastronomy design with Fogia | News

Bollo chairs with a glossy cognac-coloured upholstery, fronted by a Supersolid table, near Maeemo’s impressive wine cellar (top); other Bollo chairs, upholstered in a matt, dusty pink shade (bottom)

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  • Bollo

    Bollo

    Fogia

'The Bollo range is comfortable – lightweight and strong,' says designer Engesvik. 'Its steel frame is almost unbreakable and the upholstered parts can be renewed easily, giving the design longevity. It has a strong appearance and very strong visual character.' Fogia furniture like the Sling armchair also graces Bang’s new cocktail bar, The Conservatory, situated near Maaemo.


Fogia’s designs strike a deeper chord once their owners form an attachment to them, a quality that simultaneously guarantees them a degree of longevity


For firms like Radius Design, what makes restaurant furniture particularly appealing is its individuality. Reenskaug sees Spisolini in emotive terms, comparing it to 'rock music'. The leather-attired chair certainly projects a rock ‘n’ roll vibe: 'It’s intelligent, different, like a rock song,' he muses. Fogia furniture isn’t necessarily instantaneously, superficially appealing, he adds: 'It’s an acquired taste. It’s like a song you listen to for a while before you like it.' If not immediately seductive, Fogia’s designs strike a deeper chord once their owners form an attachment to them, a quality that simultaneously guarantees them a degree of longevity.

© Architonic

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