Can a fork be a work of art? Well, yes. Especially if it happens to be on one of the tables at Sketch. The Turner Prize winner Martin Creed has taken over a room at the London restaurant and has transformed it into a work of art. Or rather, into several works of art.
Follow your waitress to your table and you will be walking on his Work No. 1347, a zigzag floor made of 96 different types of marble. Plonk yourself down and take a swig of Pouilly-Fumé and you will be immersing yourself in Work No. 1343. The latter may look like the fixtures and fittings of an average dining room; in fact they form the heart of Creed's artistic vision – a restaurant where no two chairs, tables, glasses, or pieces of crockery or cutlery are the same. Design classics rub shoulders with Ikea staples in an arresting mish-mash. "Just as all human beings are different, every single item is different. Often restaurants can feel fascist, when everything is the same. It's a regimented world, like being in the army", says Creed. "This is a very human place. It's not alienating."
Originally, Creed had planned only to install a marble floor but the project snowballed and he soon found himself picking out wine glasses and painting the walls too. "I didn't want them to put someone else's work on the wall," he says. "Not after I'd done all that." As for the food, Creed has heeded the proverb of too many cooks and has left Pierre Gagnaire, head chef, to come up with the menu – "That's the chef's artwork". Dishes inspired by the room include "Dundee Pinky", a confection of chilli and foie gras.
Creed has form for site-specific work, having previously tiled the toilets at the London Library and clad Edinburgh's Scotsman Steps in multicoloured marble for Work No. 1059. "I like doing work outside of galleries. They are a protected environment, the work is cosseted there. It's artificial," he says. "These works are just as much works of mine as anything that is in a gallery."
The restaurant, which opened this week, is the first in a series of artist-conceived rooms at Sketch and will remain in place for 18 months. In the meantime, Creed is unlikely to become a regular diner. "I've got a bit of a phobia of food," he admits. "I suppose it's is the main way most human beings socialise but I'm a bit scared of going to restaurants. I like eating on my own, at home."