Valeria Crescenzi

In conversation with Ushi Tamborriello

On the occasion of the reopening of the Molino Select in Zürich, I had the chance to spend some time with Ushi Tamborriello — the creative mind behind the interior design concept of the restaurant. The interior designer and scenographer signed many hotspots in Zürich such as the B2 Boutique Hotel and Hürlimann Areal SPA, many Hiltl spots (i.e. the Vegimetzg, Dachterrasse, Hiltl Sihlpost…) and, of course, the Molino restaurants.

In conversation with Ushi Tamborriello – Ph: Vera Priolo

The building in Limmatquai 16 is an iconic spot for the Zürcher cultural scene and tells an interesting piece of its history. In fact, what is today the restaurant Molino Select, 1935 it was the first boulevard-Café and the first Cinéma d’art and d’essay in Zürich (read more about it in my interview with Marco Wenger). This article focuses on the interior design concept and tells you about how Ushi Tamborriello and her team brought this place back to the original splendor without being afraid of innovating.

How do you do justice to a legendary place like the former Café Select? How can you respectfully adapt the old concept to its new functional one? How to preserve part of the history while breathing new life into the place? These are just some of the initial questions Ushi Tamborriello’s team had to start answering while drafting the new interior concept. The building they had to renovate was already interested by many changes during its life. This is a building that dates back to 1425 and had multiple layers — architectonically speaking.

The former Café Select in 1956 – Ph: ETH Archiv Zürich

Since this was partly a café and partly a cinema, one of the key points of the entire project was trying to preserve the cinema hall. High ceilings and great acoustic have been kept and the current restaurant hall still gives the customers the feeling to dine in a movie theatre. Something quite special for a dinner spot and a proof of an attentive work in finding a balance between the preexisting place and the renovated version of it.

«You always have to find a balance between what you find and what you’ll be reinventing»

Ushi Tamborriello

Another key piece of the interior is the elegant spiral staircase that connects the first and the basement floors with the entrance. Its position and form guided the further development of the basement being also the starting point in the positioning of the bar counter that develops along the longitudinal wall of the former cinema hall. Behind it the kitchen with a pizza oven and serving station.

Restaurant Molino Select, focus on the spiral staircase – Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio
Restaurant Molino Select, focus on the spiral staircase – Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio

The restaurant provides for 100 seats distributed onto the ground floor and the mezzanine with tables that have a view on the Limmat as well as on the main hall.

Restaurant Molino Select, mezzanine- Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio

The new restaurant’s atmosphere

The design here is all about identity. Ushi Tamborriello didn’t want to create a museum but a lively place in dialogue with both its past and future life. The atmosphere is welcoming, elegant with the right pinch of vintage. The chosen textiles are in the shades of green with velvet for the curtains that run through the old theatres’ galleries. Special mention to the chandeliers inspired by the work of the glass designer Venini that cast a yellow-y light: it seems to dine in a salotto, this light really creates a very warm atmosphere for the guests. A beautiful counter in white marble gives the final touch to the color scheme and to the material board. The Molino Select is preserving the history of the place while writing a new chapter: it’s a beautiful blend of old and new, where the complexity of the interiors is recognizable and adds value to the overall ambiance.

Restaurant Molino Select, frontal view of the main hall – Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio
Restaurant Molino Select, one of the tables in the main hall – Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio
Restaurant Molino Select, chandeliers – Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio
Restaurant Molino Select, view of one of the chandelier as seen from below – Ph: courtesy of Ushi Tamborriello studio

What’s next for Ushi Tamborriello?

Ushi Tamborriello has a lot of ongoing projects but I will share a couple of them as a preview. There is already a Molino Restaurant in Geneva due to be open soon and it finds itself in a historical building — exactly as the Molino Select. Moreover, the interior designer is already working on a new installation for the 2020 edition of Heimtextil in Frankfurt. The installation topic is «interior architecture hospitality» and it will be a sort of textile library to investigate the functionality of textiles and not only their aesthetic side.

Did you like this design story? Read more interviews here.

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