A restaurant in Ukraine apes the past to serve up a taste of freedom

KIEV If you think of an orang-utan, chances are that white won’t be the first colour to spring to mind – unless you conjure up a rather elderly creature. Yet that’s exactly the colour that AKZ chose as the basis for restaurant Orang+Utan in Kiev, Ukraine.

Almost the entire interior is covered in standard white tiles; the only colour permitted to creep in comes via the food served and the odd piece of decorative fruit. The reason for AKZ’s ultra-neutral palette is explored elsewhere in  (research into a potential link between colour and wellness on page 141), but if the right colour can boost health, you could be forgiven for asking: Why white? The answer lies in the food. Orang+Utan is a vegetarian restaurant and all its sandwiches, smoothies and salads are, as the tiles convey, as unrefined as the driven snow. 

Healthy food isn’t all the ceramic material symbolizes, though. According to architects Artem Vakhrin and Katya Zuieva, white tiling has a deeper resonance for Kiev’s older residents. In the days of the USSR, it appeared in every building, from hospitals to swimming pools. At that time, white tiles were the only kind available. Their presence in modern, independent Ukraine (in a vegetarian restaurant, nota bene) is a poignant reminder of how times change.

Photos Lesha Yanchenkov

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