Visitors passing through St. James’ market may have noticed a slight change of scene of late. This November, that favourite Michelin starred-restaurant, Aquavit, was transformed overnight into a magical winter wonderland, complete with bushy Christmas trees, a generous helping of snow, heaps of glittering pea lights and a distinctive edge of cosy hygge and Scandinavian cool.
The concept was inspired by the whimsical winter depictions of Swedish author and illustrator, Elsa Beskow, as McQueens founder and MD, Kally Ellis, explains:
“Philip (Hamilton, CEO of Aquavit) had the most excellent vision and I adored his idea of creating a winter wonderland inspired by one of his favourite childhood authors and illustrators, Elsa Beskow. Our concept was to create something that would evoke a feeling of nostalgia and truly capture the spirit of Sweden during the festive season. I think we achieved just that.”
McQueens contracts florist, Alina Dheere Babaletsos, was head designer of the project, leading the team that brought the vision to life:
“I was very lucky, I had the best team — at times there were 25 of us there in total, including Zibi Zareba and Renato Ribeiro who were the heroes of the day. They scaled the heights we needed to install the birch branches between the chandeliers, and from which these we suspended glass baubles which just look magical. The overall effect is very understated and elegant, very Nordic chic. Outside, we spent many hours in the cold creating the winter garden so that it felt just like a forest, including all the little touches like logs, snow and even moss. It looks very natural and effortless but of course, it took a lot of work! We started at 10 pm at night, and finished at 7.30 in the morning!”
Aquavit’s interior was adorned with hanging moss and large clear glass globe terrarium baubles depicting festive scenes. Suspended from silver-birch branches, the terrariums fill the giant front windows creating an eye-catching installation for those dining in the restaurant, and the passers-by of St James who have been flocking to the scene.
Spilling outside into the square, the entrance of the restaurant was lined with eight natural Nordman spruce trees, simply decorated with warm white pea lights throughout. Between the trees, a bed of natural moss, logs and fallen pine cones complete the serene, yet festive atmosphere.
The winter installation can be enjoyed throughout the festive season and through to the New Year. For more information or to make a booking, visit the Aquavit website.