Frederik Bille Brahe – the man behind two of Copenhagen’s popular food haunts, Café Atelier September and Apollo Bar & Kantine – has opened a restaurant in the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), with the help of artist Danh Vo.
Kafeteria takes over a barrel-vaulted space on the cavernous ground floor of the Copenhagen museum.
‘It’s a room that already has patina so we want to make it alive and at the same time make people feel comfortable, intrigued and amused so they understand it’s their room,’ says Bille Brahe, who describes Kafeteria as ‘an everyday art piece’.
Vo (who will be exhibiting at SMK this autumn) has suspended Isamu Noguchi’s Akari Light Sculptures from the ceiling and added pops of colour to the otherwise white space, via dark green wall panels, red benches and oversized plants.
‘I don’t design cafés but I love this place so I gave some suggestions and they made it happen and it creates a certain energy in the museum,’ says the Vietnamese-Danish artist.
Vo has selected a collection of 20th-century design icons for the Copenhagen restaurant, including Enzo Mari’s 1970s range of wooden, low-cost ‘do it yourself’ tables and chairs, as well as Poul M Volther’s J46 dining chair and Nanna Ditzel’s whimsical 1960s Toadstool design.
Bille Brahe and chef Jakob Kjær have taken cues from Vo’s pared-back intervention to design a menu of simple, organic Japanese and Danish recipes for Kafeteria. Expect soups and simple meat dishes as well as cakes, pastries and freshly baked bread.
Adds Bille Brahe: ‘We want to be creative and to prove it’s possible to make seriously good cafeteria food.’