A Winning Bid
Menus replace catalogs when clients at Sotheby's, New York, repair to a restaurant designed by Dineen Nealy
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 3/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
At the gleaming New York headquarters of Sotheby's, the real action takes place in the expansive, Richard Gluckman–designed 10th-floor galleries and seventh-floor main saleroom. In conceptualizing a ground-floor restaurant for the building, located a cab ride away from the Upper East Side watering holes frequented by dealers and collectors, auction-house executives hoped to provide an alternative gathering place. They were also looking for a way to extend the dominant theme—of exhibiting and selling works of art—to a less formal context. "Sotheby's thought the restaurant should showcase art in a manner different from the rest of their offices," explains Dineen Nealy Architects principal Craig Nealy, who oversaw the project. "So we attempted to create a cozy, almost clubby environment." The resulting Bid, which seats 125, is equally keyed to the power-lunch crowd and potential buyers who might prefer to linger over a meal and enjoy the works on view.
The dining room's oversize seating provides a good vantage point from which to enjoy the revolving collection of paintings by blue-chip artists including Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, and Willem de Kooning. To confer a sense of residential comfort, Nealy deployed a muted color scheme and snug materials, such as calfskin and chenille upholstery. Dramatic folded walls in laurel wood mark such key areas as the restaurant's entrance zone and illuminated alabaster bar. To play off the procession of rounded columns marching through the space, Nealy developed a circle motif: custom carpeting, overhead light fixtures and wall sconces in brushed stainless steel, and even club chairs' backs feature curvaceous lines. Shimmering chains of pewter-finished beads, subtly swaying with the air flow, veil the wraparound windows. Nealy chose this window treatment for its translucent quality: Passersby are permitted a view of the wheelers and dealers in the sunken dining room, while diners get a peek of the street activity beyond.