In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Real Charcoal

Studio Weave was selected to be one of 25 designers involved in New Windows on Willesden Green: a project seeking to breathe life into the High Road by animating its shop fronts. An Outer London Fund project, it was delivered for Brent Council and Design for London by the Architecture Foundation (AF) in collaboration with Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting. AF paired each design team with a local shop to create a new window display that both attracts new customers and forms part of a giant advent calendar in the run up to Christmas (each shop had its own ‘big reveal’ date in December).

We were paired with Mr Ozer (seen below pouring us tea) and his fledgling kebab restaurant, Real Charcoal. Working in collaboration with illustrator Jill Tytherleigh, we devised the Story of the Kebab to be told (in gold) across the shop front.

From our conversations with Mr Ozer, we knew  he was keen to establish a distinct identity that would set it apart from competitors. We discussed the importance of our design emphasising that rather than being simply a takeaway, Real Charcoal is a sit-down restaurant that cooks with fresh ingredients and serves healthy food, cooked over charcoals.

The shop sits on the corner of Willesden High Road and a side road and has three large windows, so everything on the inside is on display to the outside world, particularly at night when it glows. We knew that anything we designed for the window display needed to attract the attention of passersby but not impede the view of food inside.

A key constraint was the tight space behind each window. This all meant one thing: how to be as two-dimensional as possible in three dimensions! For the window behind the counter, we designed a cabinet to snugly fit between columns.

The CNC-cut furniture provides hidden storage and shelves for fresh herbs and displaying traditional Turkish tea sets and samovars (double-decker tea pots). We worked with students at the College of North West London to build and install the display cabinet.

The Story of the Kebab design was also printed onto brown paper bags to give out to customers as well as tea towels to sell, with proceeds going to a local charity.

Kebabs have been on quite a journey over the last thousand years to reach our local high streets in abundance today. Now a staple component of British (late-night) cuisine, we felt this heritage of food in Turkish culture had been a bit lost here and so we have come up with the Story of the Kebab for both delighting and entertaining the customers of Real Charcoal!

The Story of the Kebab is revealed in two distinct ways: the history and the making. Both reflect the concoction of different cultures and ingredients and are united by their graphic identity in Jill’s hand-drawn style.

Long-before the creation of the country we now know as Turkey, mediaeval Persian soldiers roamed the land. The soldiers were nomadic so could only carry small pieces of meat, which they pierced on their distinctive curved swords and cooked over an open fire. And there we have it: the first kebab.

The idea of rotating layers of meat is thought to originate from Oltu in the Erzurum Province of Turkey and is mentioned in Ottoman journals of the 18th century: this is the ancestor of the doner. It wasn’t until the 19th century when the cone-shaped stack went vertical, invented by İskender Efendi in the city of Bursa.

In 1972, Kadir Nurman started serving kebabs with pita, salad and sauce from a stall by Berlin Zoo. This was the first time the kebab was considered part of the fast-food craze sweeping over Germany, and subsequently Europe, in the latter half of the 20th century.

The Making chapter of the story illustrates not only how many ingredients go into the making of the kebab but also the time and different processes involved. Each kebab restaurant has its own personal recipe and equally, each customer has their own preference for how to eat it.

In Turkey, eating is a very sociable event that often goes on for hours. Alas the consumption of Turkish food in this country has somehow lost that aspect; people tend to throw it down their throat while walking home.

In our design, we wanted to bring back a stronger sense of hospitality, in particular playing on the gesture of the offering of tea at Real Charcoal, free of charge, to any visitor whether they are eating in or out.