Dual Purpose

Jennifer Young and Alissa Ponchione • August 29, 2017


Project: The Katharine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Housed within the former R.J. Reynolds Building, the Katharine brasserie (named for Reynolds’ wife) breathes new life into the former tobacco company’s headquarters recently transformed into Kimpton’s Cardinal Hotel. Brooklyn, New York-based Crème looked to “design a restaurant that acts as the hotel’s soul,” says founder Jun Aizaki, who drew inspiration from traditional French cafés mixed with southern flair to match its Winston-Salem location. Natural elements blend with an Art Deco style highlighted through tobacco motifs and mosaic tiles, while the neutral color palette is illuminated by a variety of lighting, including the pendants hanging above the bar that resemble croissants, says Aizaki.

Product: Indigo Exchange Chair for Stellar Works
Dipped in a rich blue dye, the Indigo chair for Stellar Works is a new take on the studio’s versatile Exchange chair. Hong Kong’s Fabrik Lab worked alongside Aizaki on perfecting the chair’s shade through experimentation with staining. At “the core of our aesthetic and designs are things that age, and materials that last the test of time and get better,” notes Aizaki. Indigo “extends the use of traditional methods that are somewhat being lost and instead [creates] different uses for it.”

Matteo Thun & Partners

Project: IntercityHotel, Braunschweig, Germany
Along with partner Antonio Rodriguez, Matteo Thun recently finished the roll-out concept for 30-year-old German hotel chain IntercityHotel (two properties have already opened, including one in Braunschweig, with 10 on the boards for the next two years). Interiors are dressed in natural and classic materials “with no overstated gestures or pseudo-modern forms and can easily be multiplied to fit to different locations,” Thun explains. With a focus on simplicity and sustainability, the inviting ambiance is designed to attract guests for years to come and endure much longer than the refurbishment cycle. “For us, design is not just something visual, nor a matter of zeitgeist,” he says. “We are constantly looking for timeless design.”

Product: Allaperto for Ethimo
Thun’s early work in the ’80s with Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group, is the reason his work is revered as approachable, thoughtful, and fearless. “My experience in architecture and interior concepts for hospitality and residential projects inspired me to share my know-how with the industry,” he says of entering the product world. For Thun and Rodriguez’s recent collaboration with outdoor furniture company Ethimo, Allaperto followed the “keep the bones, change the dress,” ethos, he says. “I am Italian, work in Milan, and spend my summer weekends in Capri. Outdoor furniture is key in the Mediterranean lifestyle.” The collection includes a dining armchair, lounge chair, and sun bed all featuring a teak structure designed in four looks for different settings—mountain, urban, grand hotel, and camping chic.

Brooklyn and Charleston

Project: The Dewberry, Charleston, South Carolina
The Dewberry exudes southern charm emphasized by intricate details and historical touches around every corner. “The furniture is an eclectic mix of midcentury Danish antiques sourced by [us] at auction, and new furniture pieces, as well as one-off designs, specifically for the hotel,” says Workstead cofounder Robert Highsmith. Recessed wood wall paneling, brass sconces, and a black and white checkerboard floor enhance the French bistro vibe at Henrietta’s restaurant, while an original early 20th-century era chandelier by Josef Hoffmann is a commanding presence in the ballroom. The lobby boasts a brass map based on the 1861 Charleston harbor plan by Elliot & Ames, and guestrooms are cozy with clean lines, a neutral color palette, and unexpected pieces, such as armoires dressed in handpainted wallpaper of local plants and flowers.

Product: Signal Pendant and Sconces
Inspired by the Dewberry, Workstead’s debut collection featured hearty furniture made of domestic hardwood (including a coffee table, credenza, and wardrobe) and a brass chandelier, which was designed with “early American factory lighting in mind,” Highsmith explains, “distilling the function of industrial work table lighting to create a series of graphic forms.” For the more recent Signal series, handblown, sandblasted glass globes are mounted on brass or nickel canopies for a modern-meets-retro appeal.

Los Angeles

Project: Ace Chicago
Having worked with Ace on a handful of properties, Commune founder Roman Alonso wanted to “tap into Chicago’s modernist past” for the brand’s latest hotel, with architecture referencing the work of Mies van der Rohe. Alonso chose materials like linoleum on bars and countertops and chrome tubing for furniture that highlight the industrial theme, including stained or lacquered plywood instead of traditional wooden panels. Local artwork from Chicago’s Volume Gallery pepper spaces throughout the hotel, while drawings and paintings from students at the Art Institute of Chicago adorn the 159 guestrooms, which boast striped bed throws, built-in benches, contemporary seating, and metal racks for hanging everything from clothes to guitars.

Product: Commune for Christopher Farr
“Our product lines are an opportunity to look inward at who we are and the things we love as designers,” explains Alonso, who has had a longstanding relationship with British company Christopher Farr. Three years ago, Commune created a small line of fabrics for Farr’s Cloth collection, so the rugs followed “very organically,” notes Alonso. Their collaboration, available at Crosby Street Studios in New York, features 10 versatile pieces that blend handspun wool, silk, and jute to create a variety of styles, including flat weave, shag, hand-knotted, and tufted options.

Home Studios

Project: The Spaniard, New York
Nestled on a prime corner in the heart of New York’s West Village, the Spaniard is a contemporary and eclectic take on the Irish pub, combining “European tradition with these classic American bars and steakhouses that have been around for 150 years in some cases,” says Home Studios principal Oliver Haslegrave. The casual, inviting environment ramps up the nostalgia with experimental elements like Art Deco-inspired black marble detailing, an old payphone left in the corner, and the firm’s take on the “snug.” Traditionally a small, private or semiprivate room within a pub for those who don’t wish to be seen (frosted glass above seated head height typically looked out on the bar), the Spaniard’s version is defined by a floral upholstered booth and jade velvet chairs that sit below a mural of a misty forest scene.

Product: Swing Pendant
Custom pieces in the Spaniard prompted the creation of the firm’s own collection and product brand, Homework, named because “I love the learning that goes along with actually making something,” says Haslegrave. For him, it’s about the process: exploring new materials and ideas—sparked by a color, proportion, or texture from an interiors project—through research, practice, and repetition. The finely balanced Swing pendant, for instance, is made with handblown glass that rests on a silver arm.

New York

Project: Massoni, New York
Located inside New York’s Arlo NoMad, Massoni, one of the latest concepts from Three Kings Restaurant Group, blends true Brooklyn grit with a modern take on Italian tradition. In the intimate dining room, a dismantled shipping container houses faded botanical upholstered booths, while an urban mural of a sleeping Cardinal presides over the entire room. It’s the warm glow from the light installation on the ceiling at night that creates the restaurant’s ambiance, which offers an “Italian rococo quality,” says Workshop/APD cofounder and principal Matthew Berman, and is a “nod to Italian design and style.”

Product: Blackened Steel Collection for Desiron
Coming from an intensive branding exercise, the studio has introduced its first product collection inspired by the “relationship between the hand and the machine,” says Berman. It started with a custom patina blackened steel bench manufactured by Desiron with a leather cushion that has since evolved into a corridor collection that includes a console, a mirror, hooks, and a bar cart, all of which demonstrate a balance between “something that is incredibly tactile and has a warmth to it that you want to touch against the thing that is just sharp and crisp and perfect,” he adds.

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