In the heart of London’s buzzy Soho district, a leafy oasis awaits restaurant-goers in the form of Kolamba, the neighborhood’s new Sri Lankan eatery. Softened by verdant native Sri Lankan foliage, cotton-and-bamboo pendant fixtures, live-edge tables, and a bar with a terrazzo backsplash (fashioned from upcycled chunks of teal marble set in white resin), the space’s industrial-botanical mashup is a sophisticated take on tropical modernism. The style, first articulated by renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, combines the organic beauty of natural forms and materials with the dynamic angles and clean edges of modernism to achieve an escapist yet elegant aesthetic.
“There are parts of Kolamba that are quite jazzy and parts of it that are more stripped back,” says Annie Harrison, the project’s lead designer and founder of London-based interiors firm Fare. Kolamba is structured much like the internal courtyards found in many Sri Lankan homes, which invite nature indoors—another tenet of tropical modernism. The main dining space is lined with polished concrete walls and plush leather banquettes, while the area near the kitchen is clad in dark evergreen tile to heighten the drama of the live flora. As Harrison explains, “It’s meant to feel like you’re looking through the restaurant to a lush tropical space.”