By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
There is much we can learn – and transfer to our homes – from South Florida restaurant décor. We found ideas ranging from a sliding illustration that covers a flat-screen television at HMF at The Breakers on Palm Beach to a horizontal fireplace in the restaurant of the Miami Culinary Institute.
No one knows better how this works than Beverly Raphael, president and CEO of RCC Associates in Deerfield Beach. She estimates 60 percent of the company’s business is restaurant design, including high-profile spots such as Zuma in Miami, Rack’s, Piñon Grill and iPic’s Tanzy in Boca Raton, Kaluz in Fort Lauderdale and Del Frisco’s Grille in West Palm Beach.
“I first noticed when we were doing iPic that people were interested in using the unusual elements at home,” she says. “An acquaintance of mine lived on the ocean in Gulfstream and he wanted us to recreate the [cocoon lounge made from tree branches] for his home.”
Raphael also noticed that patrons of Kaluz were interested in duplicating the backlit resin room divider in the entrance. The same affect also is used in a horizontal strip on the restaurant wall.
Behind the bar at Zuma is another good idea – two different texture tiles applied horizontally and vertically.
One of the most dramatic presentations is the horizontal fireplace in the Miami Culinary Institute’s restaurant. Those who have been to the Royalton in Manhattan will recognize the technique, which gives a cozy feeling to the conversation area of the cocktail lounge.
The fireplace is vented to the outside and has a glass front to reduce the heat transmitted into the room, says Isabel Tragash of STA Architectural Group in Miami, the company that designed the space. She recommends the Montigo brand (montigo.com). Representatives will give advice but the company does not install, she says. The other option for South Florida fireplaces is biofuel, which does not require a gas line or propane tank.
“When we are designing a restaurant, we try to give it a sense of place so it has features that distinguish it and patrons leave with a memory of it,” she says. “When they leave with a memory such as wall treatment, light fixture or feature such as a fireplace, they may want to consider bringing the look home.”
Adam Tihany, of Tihany Design in New York City, has created high-end restaurants such as Daniel and Per Se in New York, Bouchon in Beverly Hills and Saffron in Dubai, also put his distinctive mark on HMF at The Breakers on Palm Beach.
“HMF is very residential looking,” he says. “It doesn’t look like a club or lounge. What is fun is using the giant lamps if you have the space and high ceilings at home. They create an instant atmosphere and lower the ceiling. If you have a double height room and want to create intimacy it can be quite effective. It is like an indoor umbrella.”
Another good idea is covering the flat-screen television in the bar. Tihany commissioned a New York illustrator to create a print on canvas that evoked the 1950s cocktail culture of Palm Beach with The Breakers in the background. Attaching a canvas to a ¾-inch plywood pane and building a track for it to slide open and closed can duplicate the idea at home.
The bar at DelFrisco’s Grille in West Palm Beach features an interesting treatment of wood that can be translated to a home bar or an accent wall.
“[The owners] wanted rich, dramatic colors,” says Tammy O’Rourke, director of interior design at Glidden Spina + Partners in West Palm Beach. “The dark wood tone kept it rich and upscale. It has a casual but refined feeling. You have much more an impression of a higher-end design when the wood stains are darker.”
The initial idea was to use wenge wood but that proved too expensive, she says. The final product is walnut with a dark stain. This is not a do-it-yourself project. Each piece is cut, matched and planned to have different elevations.
ID & Design International of Fort Lauderdale has made a reputation designing some of the most unusual and creative restaurants in South Florida, such as Piñon Grill in Boca Raton and Kaluz in Fort Lauderdale. Olfat Ayad Jallad was the creative director on both projects, which received accolades for their design.
The design at Piñon features custom cast bronze sculptures that give the restaurant distinction, but it is the wall treatments that could translate into home design.
Accent walls feature natural wood simply stacked within a frame on either side of custom ironwork of Native American dancers that are silhouetted with silk fabric laminated between layers of glass to represent fire, says Wendy Wright, director of marketing and public relations for ID & Design International.
Small pieces of artwork are enhanced in size by large curved wooden frames. Wright says this can be achieved at home using a series of wood panels, canvas or simple box frames with wood veneer.
Diners at Kaluz have asked how to duplicate the illuminated resin and monolithic acrylic panels used as a room divider. The look can be translated into the home through use of partitions, screens or a way to integrate televisions into decorative wall treatments to create a dramatic focal point, Wright says. The concealed lighting is the key to the dramatic look.
Olfat Ayad Jallad
ID & Design International
3020 NE 32nd Ave, # 117,
Glidden Spina + Partners 1401 Forum Way #100,
West Palm Beach,
255 Jim Moran Blvd.,
135 West 27th St., Ninth Floor, New York, 212-366-5544, tihanydesign.com.
STA Architectural Group
3526 N. Miami Ave.,
Miami, 305-571-1811, staarchitecturalgroup.com.