North of the border
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Opening a Mexican restaurant? How about hiring a design firm from Canada? The choice may appear counterintuitive, but veteran New York restaurateur Stephen Hanson had enjoyed so much success at Blue Fin, his first collaboration with Yabu Pushelberg, that he asked the Toronto firm to whip up a fiesta at his latest establishment, named Dos Caminos.
George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg packed the 300-square-foot front room with café seating for 32. A wooden trellis, fitted with amber acrylic panels, screens this bustling area while still permitting glimpses from the entry. "People attract people," Pushelberg explains. Over the 50-seat main dining room, an enchanted forest of 32 carved-log lanterns hangs low. At the rear of the restaurant, lacy panels of punched Masonite are silhouetted against up-lit fuchsia walls. "People are drawn to light like insects," Yabu says. A smoky sunset sky, hand-painted on canvas, covers other walls. The overall theatrical illusion is seamless, though—as with stage sets—much of the work at Dos Caminos was purely cosmetic. Yabu Pushelberg retained existing Venetian blinds and terrazzo floors and repainted the gray ceiling in dark brown.
The firm turned up the heat with folk details and exotic finishes. Gessoed-metal booth dividers were fabricated in Toronto. "Giacometti meets Mexico," says Pushelberg. Banquettes made of wormy maple were configured to utilize hopsack and chenille remnants that the designers located in their hometown. And the same Toronto artisan made the tin mirror frames, punched-tin shades for pendant lighting, and incised wood-grain pattern for the tin wall paneling. "It's all from Canada," Pushelberg admits. Explains Yabu, "The craft aspect makes it Mexican."
For Dos Caminos, a Mexican restaurant in New York, Yabu Pushelberg commissioned carved-log lanterns, gessoed-metal booth dividers, punched-tin sconces, and a dusky hand-painted wall covering.