Like a flawless shoe that tones down—or turns up—a look, Dallas-based OFFICIAL has transformed a 2,100-square-foot space into a day-to-evening cafe-bar whose design cements the brand of a well-loved Texas coffee shop. While Houndstooth Coffee’s fourth location is a sun-flooded, airy space, its sibling cocktail bar, Jettison, occupies a velvety nook in the same building. The bar’s lower ceilings are punctuated by a celestial gold-painted and trussed cavity that releases just the right amount of mood lighting into the space while providing clever coverage for the HVAC system. Custom fabrication shapes the space top-to-bottom: The perf wall light next to the bar was designed and fabricated locally by Mark and Amy Wynne Leveno, OFFICIAL’s cofounding principals. To complement the geometry of the fixtures and ceiling element, a textured dark-gray curtain along the exterior wall softens the space and brings the focus to conversations around the bar and central communal table.
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At the end of 2015, restaurateur Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos, the duo behind Matter House, were tapped to create the new restaurant and coffee shop at the Met Breuer in collaboration Beyer Blinder Belle, the architects that led the building’s overall renovation. Carter and Mattos previously created trendy downtown restaurants Estela and Café Altro Paradiso, and Thomas P. Campbell, the director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hoped that the pair would bring the same kind of hip ambience to the stately Brutalist Upper East Side building that now houses the modern and contemporary branch of the museum. With the opening of Flora Bar and Flora Coffee, the Met Breuer’s reinvention takes another step forward.
Flora Bar is open to the public without a ticket and is located one level below the sidewalk with a seating capacity of 74. Throughout the space, iconic elements play off of updated, modern decor. For example, an ample wood-and-marble bar and custom stools by Brooklyn-based designer Steven Bukowski complement the original concrete walls and columns, while the ceiling, with Marcel Breuer’s original disc-shaped lights, is mirrored by the circular Mountain White Danby marble tables. Flora Bar will maintain separate hours from the museum and will be accessible through the main entrance even when the museum is closed.
Flora Bar and Flora Coffee 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY Tel: 646-558-5383 Designers: Beyer Blinder Belle with Matter House
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Owner-built interior explores the transition from two dimensions to three.For his latest venture, The Montrose in Park Slope, Brooklyn, whisky bar proprietor and former contractor Steve Owen (with partners Michael Ferrie and Alex Wade) wanted a rough, industrial look evocative of an Old World distillery. "He was coming at it sort of from an antique perspective, as a pastiche," said B. Alex Miller, partner at Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design. "We were thinking of it in a different way." Taylor and Miller, who had worked with Owen on several projects when he was a practicing contractor, noticed the prevalence of wood herringbone patterning on the walls and floors of the spaces Owen was inspired by. "We'd done some other herringbone studies," said Miller. "We said, 'This is something that's often done in a high-end scenario. Let's pare it down to the barest of essentials, just do it out of 2-by-4 pine, do it in grain on the walls.'" The design of The Montrose became, said Miller, "a very basic exercise in transitioning from a two-dimensional to a three-dimension pattern," in which individual boards were pulled away from the wall in the z direction. Working in Rhino, the architects explored multiple iterations of the form, including the different textures created when a unit was defined as a single stick versus a two-board L. The ceiling, along which boards are arrayed lengthwise, also received a three-dimensional treatment. "There were some really interesting relationships in the ceiling," observed Miller, "almost like a musical score." Though the herringbone patterning was developed almost entirely on the computer, Taylor and Miller wanted to avoid the sense of an overly precise, machine-made space—hence the use of standard lumber. "We're often looking at very basic materials, at how to do it in a repetitive way so that the human intervention is felt," said Miller. "We wanted to make it a little more than a highly fabricated, laser-cut, pristine sort of thing." Owen built The Montrose's interior himself. "Because he was a friend, and a contractor, we could remove a lot of the documentation that would normally be required," said Miller. In fact, Owen soon abandoned the digital models Taylor and Miller passed along. "Once he figured out the system, we were able to give him just data points, just coordinates," said Miller. "It was a feedback loop: he was interpreting what we gave him. He said, 'Okay, just give me the z data off the wall.' We joked that he was seeing the Matrix a little bit." The installation itself was "dumb, in a good way," said Miller, requiring nothing more than nails and the occasional screw. "When we're doing something like this that we know is hyper-labor-intensive, it can't be complicated from an install point of view. There's nothing overly polished; it's just dirty." That messiness is exactly what Miller most appreciates about the finished product. "When we go in there now, some of the curves are a little bit rough," he said. "You can see these—they're mistakes, frankly, but I love the space because of it. This is not a highly precious thing, this is not a highly sculptured piece. It's someone interpreting our concept."