After being approached to design a child-friendly restaurant, Frank Tjepkema had a counterintuitive idea: Why not create it for the parents instead? “There are already a lot of places for children—like McDonald’s—but nothing for parents,” says Tjepkema, an Amsterdam-based designer, “especially parents who go to trendy places, because those places are not meant for kids. And the children’s places aren’t meant for trendy people.” So Tjepkema and his partner—architect and interior designer Janneke Hooymans, who cut her teeth working for Marcel Wanders—hatched the concept behind Praq: a stylish restaurant designed to satisfy the Caipirinha crowd with their kids in tow.
In Dutch, praq means both “mashed food” and “a tasty meal assembled from leftovers.” It’s an apt analogy to the restaurant’s constant balancing of adult tastes and childish delights. Praq’s custom-made furniture, for example, does double duty as design objects and playthings. The blockish wooden car tables are half eating surface and half oversize toy; the restaurant’s tunnel benches, when pushed back-to-back, form narrow spaces kids can crawl through. The cup-and-dish table, with its orange glass top and legs made of stacked crockery, is a smart synthesis of adult and kid preferences. “It’s a really beautiful, classy table that looks like it may fall over,” Tjepkema says.
To unify the restaurant’s interior and identity, Tjepkema and Hooymans first created Praq’s logo, a circle with raised dots that was inspired by a handheld potato masher. The pair repeated the circular motif throughout the space, echoing it in the polka-dot wallpaper and the handmade wall sconces. The logo has even been adopted for the restaurant’s paper items, including menus, checks, and stationery.
Since its opening in March, Praq—which is located outside of Amsterdam—has been enthusiastically received by its targeted audience, as well as by a secondary clientele: locals interested in sophisticated, reasonably priced meals—a rarity in the area. But, Tjepkema admits, there has been one problem: “Originally we didn’t want to have all the children on one side of the restaurant and the parents on the other, but”—he pauses for a laugh—“the client has come back to that idea. He decided to concentrate the small children in one area and have an adults-only section up front because it was getting a bit out of hand.”