Pioneering produce store – Natoora
Natoora, supplier of fruit and vegetables to London’s most influential chefs, has just opened a pioneering fresh produce store at 309 Fulham Road, Chelsea.
The store breaks completely from grocery shop traditions with a terraced, geology-inspired design that points back to the soil the produce has been grown in.
The store design aims to restore the real value of farming, equating the cultivation of produce with other forms of craftsmanship.
Main contractors for the fit out were EC1 Build.
The fresh produce store has been designed in house in collaboration with Argentinian architect Noé Golomb and London-based cabinet- makers FincH – whose previous work includes fit-outs for three Aesop stores.
The 50 square metre interior is an ode to both the craftsmanship of growers and to the singularity of produce.
With its terraced displays, angled bulkheads and tube lights from luxury lighting designers PS Lab, the store marks a significant departure from the fresh produce aisles of a supermarket.
Natoora’s store concept finds its root in the soil: concrete displays are layered on top of each other at intersecting angles, establishing a subtle connection with the geological strata and the land that the produce is grown in.
Instead of being organised into standard categories, produce is arranged according to its seasonal window – starting with early season produce at the front of the shop and culminating in a fermentation and preserving room where the stone bulkheads suddenly drop to create a cellar-like space.
None of the usual grocery store cues can be found here: no hessian sacks, no over-stacked crates, no pyramids of apples.
Instead Natoora pitches their bright and eclectic range of “radically seasonal” produce against slick, minimal design.
The store uses only two materials. It is a layered shell of warm-toned grey cement offset by highlights of Foresso Charcoal Mono timber terrazzo that run through the till counter, oversized chopping board and record player unit.
This sheet material from Solomon & Wu was chosen as it celebrates the variety and beauty of end grain timber by casting British Walnut offcuts into black binder, echoing Natoora’s own approach to sustainability and biodiversity when it comes to fruit and vegetables.
Natoora have adapted their store design to their produce, which is displayed loose directly on the surfaces of the shop, rather than being pre-packed in plastic.
The entire space is an immersive chilled environment controlled by a state of the art refrigeration system that creates the ideal conditions for unwaxed fruit and leafy vegetables.
Heavyweight stainless steel handheld misting guns sourced from Ohio are positioned at critical points throughout the store so that the team can care for the unique requirements of each variety.
Beyond fresh produce, Natoora uses the space to showcase independent producers who share their commitment to sustainability and craftsmanship, from small batch milk from The Estate Dairy to raw British rapeseed oil from Duchess Farms.
The ceramics that are used throughout the store are handmade by Fernando Aciar of Fefo Studio in New York and are also available to buy. These were commissioned with soft, organic style edges and custom sizes tailored to the contours of ripe produce.
A selection of Blenheim Forge knives are displayed behind glass; these are made entirely by hand in Peckham, using British steel in the Japanese technique and demand 30 hours of labour.
CEO and founder, Franco Fubini said: “We seek out responsible growers who are committed to their craft in the face of industrial monoculture. Many of our growers are true artists who work tirelessly to keep unique seed varieties, traditional growing techniques and bold flavours alive even if they go unrecognised.
“The thought and care that has gone into the design of our store is just the beginning of a food system revolution that needs to happen before it is too late.
“Now more than ever, seeking out flavour and seasonality in produce is paramount – not only from an environmental perspective but also in terms of our cultural heritage. We need to start seeing farming in terms of craftsmanship.”