I designed the interior of an Italian restaurant opening in Brooklyn’s Fort Green neighborhood. The goal of the project was to create a space for friends and family to share wine and traditional Italian food. It needed to be an easy choice for brunch or dinner, as well as a coveted hideaway in the late evenings.
It faced one major design challenge, its size: The dining space and bar only equaled 275 sqft, and the ceiling was a low 9ft. However, the space did have an undeniable charm, with its brick wall and tin fixtures, it might come to pocsess the intimacy of a tucked away local gem.
I did several designs, my favorite of which I called "Portland" after a near by street. Portland is a classic and clean design, masculine, with a nod to Italian Modernism, but not breaking the mold of local design trends. The goal of this design was to create pockets of privacy and conversation in a small restaurant bar where space is limited, and to anticipate the design expatiations of a younger Brooklyn clientele.
Some features to highlight: Cushioned booths create corners for intimacy and private conversation. These are isolated by dividers made of steel and textured glass in a touch of 1930's American mingled with a quintessential Italian arch. These are toped with marble ledges for drinks, and the arch design is echoed prominently on the bar in continuity with the Italian influence. Other fixtures and furniture are kept simple and classic, with traditional and natural materials like wood, marble, brass and iron. The original walls are brick and tin, brightened up in white-wash for a more inviting and modern look. Lastly, the tiles, neutral in tone, add a bit of mirth with an oscillating bowtie pattern.
I always design first on the page. Sketching is the best conduit for ideas I know, and allows me to quickly explore and alter concepts. After many drawings, I began to refine a vision for the restaurant.
I took a research trip to Italy, to snap a lot of pictures and do a lot of sketching in the streets and cafes of Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan. It was tough unpleasant work, ; ) but worth it for the inspiration.
I created copious moodboards at the begining of the project, casting a wide net around any material I found inspiring, from art and illustration, to cinema and archetecture.