Delicious By Design

A peek at some of our area’s most intriguing restaurant interiors.

Delicious By Design

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A peek at some of our area’s most intriguing restaurant interiors.

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Feast Your Eyes: Who says you can’t eat atmosphere? These inspired restaurant interiors set the tone for sensual indulgence.

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By Diane Weintraub Pohl

 

Restaurants offer far more than food. Combining elements of theater, party, and even travel, the very best restaurants are like brief vacations from the mundane. And the destination choices are endless. We can strike a pose in a chic, minimalist boite or luxuriate in a plush banquette, experience the peace of a bucolic setting, or settle in for a meal in a dining room that feels like a perfected, more serene version of home. While cuisine may be what draws us, it’s a restaurant’s décor that transports us. Here, a look at restaurant interiors that set the stage for magical experiences.

 

RK…An American Brasserie, Rye

Design: Roger Ferris + Partners, Westport, CT

 

1. Architect Roger Ferris, the James Beard award-winning designer of Connecticut’s Paci Restaurant, says, “A lot of my work is informed by contemporary art.” He created this cool, sleek, ultra-modern look for RK by contrasting stark, glacial white walls with inky blue mohair banquettes.

2. Ferris’s firm adapted aerospace technology and developed software to create the installation art that is the décor’s piece de la resistance. A 20-foot-long projection of text snippets lingers on the wall for three minutes before being replaced by another provocative phrase. “Restaurants are all about language and social engagement,” Ferris says. “I didn’t want to just hang art. I wanted something more experiential.”

3. When you look up at the ceiling, you’re actually looking back in time. The original beams of the previous site, a warehouse, remain within the floating ceiling.

4. The rectangular pillars presented a design challenge. “They’re structural supports,” says Ferris. “They had to stay there.” To make them visually recede, Ferris cloaked them in sanded, dot-matrix glass and gleaming bands of zinc. Why the shine? “Reflective surfaces tend to make objects visually dematerialize.”

5. Square-backed, white leather chairs, square and rectangular tables, crisp linens, and even the oblong plates, propel the room’s strong geometric symmetry.

6. The interplay of materials extends to the floor, an angular juxtaposition of pale terrazzo and warm bamboo.

 

Aurora, Rye

Design: Haverson Architecture and Design, Greenwich, CT

 

1. Architect and interitor designer Jay Haverson, who once partnered with visual-spectacle guru David Rockwell (think Vong, Lipstick Café), took his design cues from the restaurant’s name, choosing the ceiling tints of azure and rose to evoke an ethereal dawn. The bar’s lighting extends the celestial theme with
suspended orbs.

2. The original space was a jumble of three stores and multiple levels. To unify the layout and create a sense of serenity, Haverson created repetitive, vaulted ceilings.

3. The space’s disjointed decorative stonewalls were reconfigured with niches to hold art and fresh flower displays. The cornice-framed niches add dimensional complexity to the room, or, according to Haverson, “create specific planes within the space.”

4. The rosy wall hues and warm lighting bathe diners in a flattering, peachy glow.

 

Plates, Larchmont

Design: Zeff Design, Manhattan

 

1. The restaurant takes its name and inspiration from chef/owners’ collection of restaurant plates, acquired over the years from restaurants where they  trained, worked, or simply enjoyed a memorable meal. The plates are the restaurant’s signature decorative element.

2. Chef Matthew Karp and his wife, Wendy Weinstein Karp, wanted a “downtown yet downhome feel” for their restaurant, and designer Mark Zeff suggested a contemporary touch. The result? A blend of serenity and urbanity. A dramatic black and white palette lends modernity and softening touches, like the golden curtain, linen tablecloths, and simple chairs, keep the look familiar and welcoming.

3. White-washed horizontal wood paneling brings a casual, traditional feel to the room that contrasts with the sleeker contemporary theme.

4. A seating arrangement of banquettes was incorporated into the new design for casualness, comfort, and community.

 

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills

Design: Asfour Guzy Architects, Manhattan

 

1. Who could ever know that this space was once a working barn? (The farmers: David Rockefeller and his late wife, Peggy.) Principal architect Peter Guzy, along with help from Blue Hill at Stone Barns co-owner Laureen Barber, converted the Normandy-style, 1930s barn into its present incarnation, a nationally renowned temple to sustainable, seasonal, regional cuisine (in 2005, Blue Hill was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design). The barn’s original steel trusswork, which serves the very practical purpose of supporting the roof, also serves as a crucial design element, dominating the dining room ceiling.

2. Guzy wanted to convey intimacy, so he designed the massive white-oak harvest table not only to echo the scale of the cathedral-like ceiling above, but to physically break up the floor space below. The harvest table divides the dining room into cozier groupings of tables.

3. Salvaged century-old pine floorboards retain their natural, glowing patina.

4. Like the sustainable cuisine served from the kitchen, the furnishings reflect the ideals of purity and reverence for nature. The wood lamps and bar tables, and 100-percent wool upholstery, have an almost monastic aesthetic. “This place is like sacred ground,” says Guzy. “It’s a shrine to nature and architecture.”

 

Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge, Yonkers

Design: Gemmola & McWilliams, Hawthorne

 

1. Architects Greg McWilliams and Ed Gemmola had to convince the restaurant’s owners that diners’ initial view should be of the bar, not of tables. Gemmola believes the bar, of gleaming cherry wood and granite, is the room’s most important feature. It directs the space’s “visual presence,” he says.

2. The tables against the wall are positioned so that diners can take in all the key architectural elements simultaneously: the warmth of the wood floor, the sleek bar, and the time-worn brick walls.

3. The exposed brick walls are reminders of the waterfront building’s age and industrial heritage. Once known as the Gazette building, it previously housed the newspaper’s printing press.

4. How do you create cozy intimacy in a massive, imposing, industrial space? With massive banquettes, of course! The oversized seating matches the heroic scale of the room, but the curvaceous form, textured upholstery, and undulating shape (they hug the walls and flow around the corners), offer a welcoming embrace. The architects also retained the original printing plant’s brick walls and wood floors to bring warmth to the industrial-sized space.

5. The “frescoed” sheetrocked walls echo the restaurant’s Italian cuisine and cultural heritage, but a contemporary color scheme and whimsical lighting fixtures keep the look urbane.

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