Born of fire

In 2020, Argentinian restaurant Gran Fierro relocated, and at its second location in Prague’s new town the renowned Czech design collective Formafatal again dreamed up the interior design. The main inspiration? Fire and coal.
by Linda Pezzei | 3/12/2021

Gran Fierro: Among connoisseurs, it’s a name that stands not only for outstanding meat dishes but also, since the restaurant’s relocation, for sustainable management of resources in terms of design and raw materials. After five successful years, the owner Juan Cruz Pacin felt forced to move to a different location within the Czech capital. The new premises are located not only close to the Mánes Galerie, a unique Functionalist building in the center of Prague, but also lie within a historical building in the heart of the city’s UNESCO heritage zone. All in all, therefore, it sounds like a pretty exciting task for Dagmar Štěpánová and her team at Formafatal, which had previously developed the design concept for the restaurant’s original premises.

From the outset, Pacin knew where he wanted to go with the Gran Fierro II: "It was always obvious to me that the new design should surpass the previous one. At the same time, though, I wanted to preserve the original atmosphere. Dagmar’s idea of incorporating a ‘wall of charcoal’ meant we were forced to consider charcoal and its origins very carefully. Since charcoal production makes a considerable contribution to deforestation, we recently decided to start producing our own green bio-charcoal. Now, we can safely say that the wall is our strongest visual statement."

Fire, flame, heat, and coal are closely bound up with the identity of the Argentinian steak restaurant. After all, no fire means no goodies from the grill. This element, symbolic of energy, courage, and passion, was therefore chosen to form the heart of the kitchen, illuminating and heating the space at the same time, while likewise defining the atmosphere of the entire place. The food is simple yet delicious, the wine elegant and pleasing – as soon as they enter the premises, guests are comfortingly embraced by the warmth and energy of this very individually designed space. Here, design is not merely show and effect but conveys the passion and dedication with which the owner runs his restaurant. The bio-charcoal, which is produced in-house from organic waste from the kitchen, has been incorporated by the architects as the very essence of the new design: The new showpiece – a wall made of concrete blocks – resembles a display cabinet within which hover pieces of charcoal displayed like gems. The concept continues in the vault of the lounge at the rear, where a kind of baldachin made of floating charcoal pieces ingeniously sets the scene.

In spatial terms, the “reborn” Gran Fierro comprises 390 square meters including the garden, and seats 163 guests. At the same time, the restaurant is divided into three zones: the main section with its open kitchen, the garden complete with conservatory, and the side wing with VIP lounges. In “redesigning the old”, the architects have been guided by the original fittings and the existing furniture from the previous location. Hence, the concept accommodated not only the Manufactori chairs but also the previously used materials and colors, which were largely retained. “We have also incorporated new elements in the design. These relate to the raw construction materials used on site, but have been given an entirely new function. Steel girders, for example, serve as substructures for benches, while iron bars divide up the space or combine with steel mesh to form an extensive wine rack that stretches across an entire wall,” says Štěpánová, summarizing her well-thought-out concept.

Although the interior is primarily made up of raw materials – namely steel and leather – that are combined with darker colors, Formafatal has nevertheless managed to ensure the atmosphere is by no means austere and cool, but rather warm and inviting. Individual design objects in a bright red color, the delicate execution of the exposed concrete walls, and the mirrors by Notre Monde and Industrial Antik lend the space its own character. Whether it’s down to the extravagant Chiswick Hoop pendant luminaires by Tudo & Co., the benches made specially for the restaurant, or the artful incorporation of the charcoal – the Gran Fierro is a place with its own unique atmosphere.


Myslíkova 8
120 00 Prague 2
Czech Republic

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Architecture & Design