For almost ten years, Caroline Dippold has been our interior designer here at L’Osteria. Her team brings our restaurants to life during the labour-intensive period before each new opening – the time between the initial planning on paper up until the final touches are made. She develops an individual concept for each site, tailored to each town, location and size of L’Osteria, which later forms the basis for our popular, cosy and lively atmosphere.
Hello Caroline! So how did you come to work with L’Osteria?
I have known L’Osteria since the opening of its restaurant in Rosenheim in 2001. At the time, I was a student serving pizza and pasta there on the side and I fell in love with L’Osteria. After my interior design studies, I spent a few years in Italy, but I never lost contact. Back in Munich, we started working together. Since then, I have helped to plan and implement almost 50 locations – and, as one of the old-timers, it is still a lot of fun. That speaks for itself… J
Which were the first L’Osteria locations where you and your team became actively involved? What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
My first project was the L’Osteria Freestander in Augsburg. That was really exciting because we were able to plan and create our ‘own establishment’ on a green field. In contrast to an inner-city location, we finally had the space here to incorporate all our design ideas and operational needs into the planning. It was quite a large and labour-intensive undertaking at the time, but also a huge opportunity. And ultimately a great success! We stood, freezing, on the building site every day for six months and when we finally opened it we nearly burst with pride. That was such a fantastic time!
What kind of partnership do you have with the L’Osteria building department? Where are the most common interfaces?
The building department is responsible for technical management, for example, and also coordinates many of the trades working on site. Apart from that, the guys and girls here take care of all the maintenance, repairs and renovation of existing restaurants. This has become a real challenge in the meantime, given the number of locations. Creatively, we don’t really overlap that much. On the design front, we work directly with management. But during the last few days of the construction site at the latest – so just before the restaurant is about to open – we stand together on the doorstep again and make the final touches to the property.
How long does it take, roughly, to set up a new L’Osteria?
Oh gosh – it can vary a lot. We can design and implement it very quickly if a project is under a great deal of time pressure. However, every property has its own teething problems and surprises, and so some building applications unfortunately take a bit longer to be accepted. On average, I would say we need about six months from the first sketches to the actual opening.
Do you have a favourite item that you always like to bring into play?
There are many things that I still like to use, even after all these years. Not least because by now they have their own recognition value at L’Osteria. Different lights or tables but also certain wall tiles and materials or industrial windows just always work. It’s also the small details, such as the pram park we designed, which I still enjoy seeing.
Our restaurants are also largely characterised by large window fronts and high ceilings. What tricks or devices do you use to nevertheless create a warm, cosy atmosphere?
The lighting and colour scheme is an important topic here. Over-sized pendant luminaires or room dividers and wooden shutters along the window fronts help to make it feel cosier. What is important is that the guest doesn’t feel like they are ‘on show’. We therefore try to divide large restaurant areas into different seating areas.
What design elements are typical for the industrial style and which furnishings give that Italian flair to L’Osteria?
A very underestimated design element is light. Here, L’Osteria sets simple standards in terms of atmosphere when compared to its competitors and also spares no expense. Brick walls, metro tiles, an open ceiling with visible pipework, various pieces of vintage furniture, industrial lighting made from enamel or also beautiful Edison light bulbs… These are all the traditional elements that are currently perceived as ‘vintage/industrial’. I wouldn’t describe it as ‘Italian flair’ at all – in some ways we almost have a ‘L’Osteria flair’ all of its own now, do you not think?
Where do you source the chairs, tables and lamps for L’Osteria? Some pieces are even unique items, right?
Ha! That’s a trick question, isn’t it?! That is of course a secret between L’Osteria and myself…
Where do you find fresh inspiration? To what extent are you influenced by current trends?
Quite honestly? Current trends in the world of gastronomy are more of an indication that we need to come up with something new. We often see elements from our restaurants copied in other concepts and that just means it’s time to do something new! Restaurants from New York, London or Rome have always been a source, as well as design magazines or the Milan Furniture Fair, for example. But ‘going travelling’ is simply the best brain food.
We are curious: what does your home look like?
Like an obstacle course of toys and bikes! My young son takes care of that with his tricycle, balance bike, scooter and rocking horse surrounded by Lego bricks and conkers we’ve collected all over the floor, which actually really hurt if you step on them. No, in all seriousness: nothing spectacular. A cosy couch with a leather table, a large, old wooden table with different chairs, as well as lots of pictures, drawings and souvenirs I’ve collected hanging on the wall, mixed with a few design classics… Just the sorts of things you ‘collect’ over time and whatever I set my heart on. Almost every piece is tied to a wonderful memory I could tell you about – that is what ‘home’ is for me.