Restaurant Spotlight | Opposing Elements - Design Bureau


Municipal Bar + Dining Co. photos by Alex Goykhman


Municipal Bar + Dining Co.


Municipal Bar + Dining Co.

R+D Exterior_lightened

R+D Kitchen photos by Tim Street-Porter


R+D Kitchen


“We all benefit from exposure to daylight and improved views,” says Beverly Sherrin of Sherrin Glass and Metal, the high-end glazing contractor who installed the aluminum and glass curtain wall between the kitchen and the dining area at R+D Kitchen. “The design provides diners a view of everyone’s favorite place—the kitchen,” says Sherrin. The company has created its one-of-a-kind windows and entranceways for numerous projects, including the Getty Villa Museum in L.A.


Saison photos by Bruce Damonte,








Ichabod’s photos by Guenter Knop Photography



Restaurant Spotlight | Opposing Elements

Monday, August 26th, 2013

By Amber Gibson

Four big-city restaurants marry metal and wood to give bygone architectural styles a modern twist


Municipal Bar + Dining Co. 
Location: Chicago
Design: Brandner Design

Municipal’s design resembles an industrial-style 1930s police station courtesy of furniture designer Jeff Brandner. “There’s a lot of steel because the structure of the building had a lot of steel,” Brandner says. “And we use a lot of reclaimed woods in our furniture.” Case in point: the restaurant’s tables are made of steel I-beams with tabletops made from reclaimed oak. The chairs bear the restaurant’s MNCPL logo, which was laser-cut into the backs and treated with acids like ferric nitrate to age the raw steel and give it a bluish purple hue. “We mix different acids that react with the steel and change the color,” Brandner says. “It’s not a paint. It actually changes the molecular structure of the steel. Understanding how it all works is an art in itself.” To finish the chairs, Brandner used sanding discs to wear down the metal. “We really wanted the chairs and stools to look like they weren’t brand-new,” he says. “To give them an antique look that would come after years and years of use.”


R+D Kitchen
Location: Santa Monica
Design: Stenfors Associates Architects

The big garage door at R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica opens the restaurant to the city streets. Principal architect Jeff Stenfors worked closely with Hillstone Restaurant Group’s in-house design team to capture the town’s mid-century modern ideas and warm materials in R+D’s design. “We started with a much more raw aesthetic,” Stenfors says. “We were thinking raw plywood, but gradually over time, we went to higher-end oak, walnut, and Douglas fir.” A stacked norman brick chimney and thin but durable copper canopy are visible from outside. “Over time, the copper will patina and turn bronze,” Stenfors says. Inside, glulam beams cut across the space, effectively lowering the high ceilings. “We cut the old structure and put in this lower diaphragm,” Stenfors says. “You can look through it and see the skylight, but the theatrical lighting and essential mechanical and electrical treatments are up high in the space so you don’t notice them so much. I think that sort of compression creates an intimacy in the restaurant.”


Location: San Francisco
Design: Samaha + Hart Architecture

It’s one of the most expensive restaurants in San Francisco, yet there’s no dress code. It’s just one of the many noticeable juxtapositions of casual and luxurious happening at Saison. “The space is a big, raw shell,” says project designer Bassel Samaha of Samaha + Hart Architecture. “But the refinement happens down at a human scale.” Samaha and his partners, including kitchen designer Tim Harrison, architect Michael Gibson, and interior designer Jiun Ho, brought that spirit to life with elements like an entry wall of stacked firewood, a precise spotlight on each diner’s food, cashmere throws, and comfortable Danish chairs from Saison’s previous location. Custom-made walnut tables from Original Timber with live edges and steel legs were one of the first pieces of furniture completed, and the metal and wood combination inspired the rest of the restaurant’s design, including a copper back bar. “We love the idea of reflecting all the copper pots in the kitchen in a subtle copper mirror,” Samaha says. Chef/owner Joshua Skenes also had an “outrageous” amount of input, according to Samaha. Skenes suggested the foyer’s dramatic but economical firewood wall. Guests also have a straight view into the expansive open kitchen to begin salivating over the meal to come.


Location: New York City
Design: Method Architects

Ichabod’s matches hemlock with blackened steel in a modern space that retains a barn aesthetic. This wood is significantly lighter than the darker, richer woods used at sister tavern, The Headless Horseman, next door. “The restaurant is more fine dining [than the tavern],” says Carlos Macias, founding partner at Method Architects. “It’s geared toward Ichabod Crane, who’s a school teacher, so the details are a little more refined.” The literary allusions to Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow are fitting, considering the restaurant is located on Irving Plaza, named for the author. All the wood is reclaimed from Western Pennsylvania and vintage wall hooks display animals that appear on the menu. The decor is not strictly colonial, though. The custom wine display above the raw bar adds a playful touch of color. “The bottles resemble a school of fish swimming over the raw bar,” says Macia’s partner at Method, Johan Reyes. Upholstered Italian leather banquettes are another sleek touch. Beveled glass in the entry vestibule creates a pixilated effect at night, with city lights streaming in. “It brings the city back into the restaurant,” Macias says.

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