Gregory Battersby | March 01, 2011
What happens when a restaurant's design changes as often as the menu? That's the question that New York chef John Fraser, of Dovetail fame, was pondering when he secured a nine-month lease on another restaurant space, where he could experiment with his cooking, and the participation of the Metrics Design Group, hired for less than 10 percent of its usual fee. With funding from Kickstarter, a micro-financing Web site, principals Elle Kunnos de Voss, Felix de Voss, and Nadia Tolstoy were ready to embark on the nine iterations of Fraser's What Happens When—at approximately $2,300 per makeover.
"Limitations of budget and time spurred unexpected ideas. We've learned that we can make magic with no money," Elle Kunnos de Voss says. The designers conceived of the evolving decor of the 600-square-foot interior as a single musical composition. For the first movement, they went for deconstructed volumes and a black-and-white palette. "We intentionally started with a very sparse aesthetic to build upon," she explains. Things warmed up for Valentine's Day, courtesy of a ceiling installation in hot pink gradating to deep purple. Come spring, the transformation extends to the rear garden.