With a kiwi mural, Mercedes paint, and more, Jeffrey Beers International keeps the creative juices flowing at Breez
Debra Scott -- Interior Design, 2/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
When architect Jeffrey Beers designs a restaurant, his starting point is the food. A grasp of how the chef intended to prepare and present the menu offerings at Breez, an Asian-inspired seafood eatery, led him to establish a color palette that emulates the edibles, from stone in Nori-seaweed black to epoxy in sticky-rice white and ash in lemon yellow; the conch-shaped gold-leafed bar further underlines the theme. But, more than anything, the look of Breez is taken from its geographic context. The restaurant sits at a throbbing pulse point of Miami Beach, on the first floor of the spiraling, multilevel, 40,000-square-foot Billboardlive, an entertainment complex whose interior architecture is all by Beers. (Michael Graves designed the building shell.)
Designing the casual Breez required a wildly different sensibility than the one Beers concocted for, say, DB Bistro Moderne, the hipper Manhattan outpost of quadruple-starred chef Daniel Boulud's culinary empire. Where DB is an exercise in gleaming lacquer, Breez is, well, a breath of fresh air: easy shapes, crisp lines, anodized metal surfaces, and tropical coloration. Beers uses such adjectives as "racy," "zippy," and "giddy." A mural depicting the cross section of a kiwi, seeds radiating from its core like a giant sunburst, is all about fun. "It speaks directly to the attitude of Breez," says Beers. "Its striking green connotes freshness and excitement." The amusement factor extends to the sushi bar, where a beaded curtain partially obscures the sushi masters as they slice and roll.
After food concept, the next consideration for Beers is space planning, ensuring that key elements make sense together. Breez's oyster bar, for example, floats in the center of an octagonal room, promoting eye contact. Once the architect has tweaked an overall envelope till it works, he characteristically concentrates on conveying a statement less about a particular period or style than about boldly juxtaposing unexpected materials. At Breez, the oyster bar's zinc counter contrasts with the fabric bar face. He also paired an ash sushi counter with a corrugated steel bar face (covered in green automotive paint) and set a polished yet undulating flow of black Japanese river rock into the white concrete floors.
When he gets down to atmosphere, lighting plays a major role. His subtle design gestures, after all, would go to waste if they weren't accented and highlighted. "I light all surfaces," he says, pointing out the drama of the up-lit kiwi mural. A creature more of aesthetics than of pragmatics, he admits disdain for down-lighting, though he's not averse to compromise: The rectangular silk lanterns above Breez's café tables are a boon to diners who'd actually like to read the menu or view their food.