360 brand design agency, Harrison, has unveiled a redesigned, premium and modernised concept for the UK flagship restaurant of quick-service Mexican-inspired restaurant Chipotle. Inspired by the Californian HQ, the new look-and-feel Chipotle moves away from its distinctive red colour exterior, and instead channels a more refined and neutral colour-palette, with the chipotle chilli instead being the focal point and repositioning itself at the heart of the brand.
As a well-known US established restaurant group, Chipotle first opened its doors in London in May 2010. Since then, it has grown its portfolio to 13 restaurants throughout the UK, including its most recent opening in Westfield, the largest shopping centre in Europe, with over 60,000 visitors each day.
Working closely with the team in America, Harrison stripped back the Chipotle brand to its bones, drawing inspiration from Chipotle’s US head office in Los Angeles, California. Creating a statement which marks a new step in the evolution of the Chipotle brand, it is undeniably more modern and sleeker than previous iterations.
Harrison wanted to ensure that even in a busy thoroughfare – such as in Westfield – Chipotle would stand out from the crowd. Made from perforated Corten steel – also known as weathering steel which eliminates the need for painting and when exposed to the elements will slowly transform into a stable rust-like appearance – the new restaurant front puts the chipotle chili front and centre. Subtly backlit, the new storefront is larger than life with dramatically high ceilings visible from the outside to give the feeling of space and greatness.
Mirroring the core US design model, the team incorporated distinct design styles which would best resonate within the UK market:
Offering a warmer, more inviting dining area with comfortable and bigger seating.
Raising the height of the ceiling to create a more open, welcoming space coupled with warm wood accents.
The iconic spider lights Chipotle has used within its restaurants since the beginning as a nod to the origin story, rather than track lighting which can have a more sterile, retail feel.
Incorporating sustainable products into the design and sourcing materials from the UK wherever possible, to mirror Chipotle’s ethos of using sustainably sources ingredients and packaging within its F&B offering.
Utilising UK produced leather in warm tones – drawing on the original Chipotle restaurant design which featured a richer, dark leather seating.
Introducing the use of brick into Westfield, bringing texture and warmth to the back area.
Removing the distinct red colouring and including modern, neutral tones such as greys and whites to create a more premium and luxurious feel, perfect for families enjoying a day of shopping.
Senior Designer at Harrison, Victoria Morgan, comments, “Working with Chipotle on the flagship Westfield store has been a complete whirlwind. We were presented with a blank canvas as the site was formerly a clothing store. The team at Harrison and I started working on the brief in late-Autumn 2022 and we were onsite in February meaning that from start to finish the project was complete in only six months which is almost unbelievable looking back.
“We’ve worked incredibly closely with our client and the team in the US – and you can see this through the design, we’ve been inspired by not only what Chipotle is and represents in the US today, but the origins of the brand, and the evolution in the UK over the last 13 years. It’s really been a journey to ensure that the new design and identity for Chipotle is still recognisable to the UK audience, whilst at the same time elevating it as a brand with purpose. The design reflects the ethos of Chipotle and has transformed to be more than just a functional space. There’s a customer journey now – whether people want to take a break, sit down and enjoy a meal with friends or family or opt for grab-and-go. It’s welcoming and warm, inviting people to explore and experience Chipotle.
“This is just the start of our journey. We have six more stores in planning, each will be true to the new identity but with twists and design features which seamlessly tie consistency with elements unique to each location. It’s a hugely exciting time for Chipotle in the UK, and we love being part of the journey.”
The Chipotle Westfield flagship store has kick-started the strategic partnership between Harrison and Chipotle, which will see at least six new locations open throughout the UK over the next three years.