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Pop Culture Inspired: Biggie Smalls by Technē

Biggie Smalls’ new Windsor restaurant blends street art and hip-hop influences with an elegant New York City diner aesthetic.



BY Rebecca Gross

January 5th, 2018


The opening scene of Pulp Fiction takes place in one; The Big Lebowski’s Walter and Johnnie talk about basic freedoms in one; Marty McFly went Back to the Future to see his teenage father in one, and Sally proved a point to Harry in one.

The American diner is an iconic fixture in popular culture and these memorable movies, plus others, provided Technē Architecture + Interior Design with inspiration for the new Biggie Smalls restaurant in Windsor. Following the success of its Collingwood venue, the latest rendition of Biggie Smalls blends street art and hip-hop influences with an elegant New York City diner aesthetic.

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Biggie Smalls blends street art and hip-hop influences with an elegant New York City diner aesthetic.
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“Our research and inspiration started with looking at the history of the American diner, the mix of local customers and travellers, white collar and blue collar,” says Jonny Mitchell, senior interior designer at Technē. “It’s a broad cross-section of people attracted by a design aesthetic that conveys a homely, friendly feel through the use of playful, welcoming design cues but with a focus on affordable fast food.”

Technē took these classic design cues, including chequered floors, art deco-style curves, neon signs and jukeboxes, and created a sophisticated and contemporary diner in the spirit of Kingside Restaurant and Minetta Tavern in New York and Nickel & Diner in Los Angeles.

Biggie Smalls is located in a narrow heritage-listed building on Chapel Street. Technē configured the restaurant with a bar extending the length of the space and fixed bar stools that change in height to respond to the split-level floor.

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The walnut-stained bar with black granite and brass accents reflects Biggie Smalls’ focus on drinks service.
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The walnut-stained bar with black granite and brass accents reflects Biggie Smalls’ focus on drinks service. The smooth curves of the bar and overhead shelving are also expressed in the brass-framed fluted glass of the partitions between the booths. The contemporary rendition of a black and white chequered floor is in harmony with the Victorian-era façade, and the dark-green painted walls are a rich complement to the exposed brick.

“The intention was to have consistent design cues around the diner theme, but with a shift in mood to more of a bar/diner where people will grab a bite to eat, but stay for a few drinks,” Johnny explains.

There are bar stools, generous booths and flexible tables, and artwork and references to Biggie Smalls’ 1990s hip-hop DNA are throughout. “Imagery, pop culture references and playful menu branding all come together to create the unique Biggie Smalls experience in a way that is contextual to Windsor’s characterful identity,” Jonny says.

Technē are hospitality design mavens, check out the Hightail Bar, also designed by the studio.

Photography by Tom Blachford.

See a full list of dissections for this project here.


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