The Writing is on the Wall
Stephen F. Milioti -- Interior Design, 8/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Like a bottle of fine wine, creative cuisine needs to breathe. So a restaurant with short-rib ravioli and nine-vegetable slaw on the menu clearly requires unfussy decor. At RK in suburban Rye, New York, Roger Ferris + Partners accordingly served up a cleverly minimalist dining room in response to chef-owner Reza Khorshidi's request for a "simple Parisian brasserie for Americans—a twist on comfort food."
Architect Roger Ferris's palate-cleansing renovation of RK's 6,000-square-foot warehouse began with a new facade of zinc coated in stainless steel, plus a run of garage-style aluminum-framed windows facing a park across the way. Rather than raising the roof, he jackhammered the floor to lower it 20 inches. To make the interior appear even more spacious and open, he also stripped away as many columns and beams as structurally possible. The three remaining columns dazzle, clad in fritted glass that reflects the light cast by incandescent fixtures recessed in nearby ceiling cutouts.
To add dimension and soften a potentially austere environment of colorless glass, white paint, white cotton tablecloths, and white leather-covered chairs, Ferris relied on shifts in materials. A long banquette, for ex-ample, incorporates three distinct elements: quarter-sawn bamboo paneling for the back, navy blue velour for the upholstery, and terrazzo for the baseboard. Meanwhile, repeating materials make the space cohesive. The best examples of this are the bamboo and terrazzo, which appear again as flooring.
The edgiest design statement is literally written on the wall: provocative single sentences that mysteriously unfurl, letter by letter, on the sidewall above the banquette. "I can't believe they are splitting up again. I thought they had reconciled and forgiven each other," one ribbon of floating white text might read—until it melts away again three minutes later. Ferris wrote the sentences himself and programmed them into custom software hooked up to ceiling-mounted tandem projectors. These are equipped with short-throw lenses used to create slender linear images, for instance the horizon line in flight-simulator hardware.
Ferris explains that the idea for his "Con-Text wall" came from thinking about the purpose of restaurants. "Besides food," he says, "they're places people go to have a conversation." RK is sure to get them talking.