designed with AvroKO 2016-2018, as Chief Creative Officer
The Eaton Hotel in Hong Kong is part of a new global brand launching in Hong Kong and Washington DC in 2018. The Eaton mission is one of social responsibility, inclusiveness, and strong connection to culture. The spirit of the local community is of central importance to the any Eaton experience, and Hong Kong Eaton embraces the vibrant local culture of Kowloon, with its bustling neighborhoods full of commerce and history.
The Eaton HK recipe is original among modern hotels in its combination of offerings. In addition to the usual complement of rooms, events spaces and restaurants, the site features Eaton House global co-working community, a collection of standout local food offerings—the Foodhall, and a long-established Michelin rated Cantonese tavern, Yat Tung Heen. Tying all of these venues together is a series of events, driven by the in house curatorial team, ambassadors of culture and music. The combination of program elements, design and operations define a vibrant interconnected ecosystem of experience.
The design is pure Kowloon vernacular in spirit, with concepts in color, pattern, metal and tile work all divined from the local examples of streetside dining, tea house restaurants and old Kowloon residential architecture. While these reference points inspired the development of a unique Eaton HK design vocabulary, the particular form of each piece of lighting, furniture or wall decor was also driven by extensive discussion with the hotel brand and operations teams. The physical elements of Eaton HK are not only contextual in spirit, but highly customized and modern in their function.
designed with AvroKO 2012-2015, as Design Director, NYC
With this adaptive reuse project, a landmark New York City school building from the early 1900’s works as the centerpiece of a collection of new mixed use projects near Hudson Yards.
As part of the Gotham Organization's overhaul of a midtown block, which included the creation of the Gotham West Market, New York's c1905 Public School 51 by celebrated architect Charles B. J. Snyder is reimagined as luxury loft apartments. The tiny landmark building offered limited space for amenities, so the story of the old building and other historic school architecture of its era became the focus, celebrated through a collection of details. High ceilings offered opportunities to embellish the space with classic library ladders, science lab style kitchen cabinetry and elaborate lighting installations that recalled the hybrid gas-electric fixtures of the building's heyday.
Publico at Intercontinental
designed with Avroko 2015-2017, as Chief Creative Officer
The past two years in Singapore have seen a dramatic increase in hospitality innovation citywide, and the Robertson Quay area is at the center of the latest explosion of creative restaurants, hotels and public spaces. This neighborhood is solidly residential in nature, but with the emergence in Singapore of the flex work community, it is being reborn as a place to gather not only for a weekend stroll, but for business functions and day to day work. Avroko's Publico, Deli Publico and Bar Marcello projects, the three venues comprising the hotel-operated Food & Beverage of the new Robertson Quay Intercontinental Hotel, set the tone for how the new hotel engages neighborhood residents, hotel guests and the working community.
These preliminary project photos were taken by our lighting designer, Bernhard Bsteiler during the project commissioning, in October 2017.
More on this project coming soon.
Perry Lane Hotel
designed with Avroko NYC 2015, as Design Director
The Perry Lane is a Luxury Collection boutique hotel in historic Savannah with a focus on ties to local community and the city’s beloved style of hospitality.
Key to the design was conveying a distinct sense of place with the hotels focused set of amenities and public spaces. On one hand that sense of place came through with the project’s modern interpretation of the local classical colonial style.
More essentially, the sense of place was conveyed with how the hotel opens its common spaces to the life of the street nearby. With the hotel split into two blocks on opposite sides of Perry Lane, a quiet side street, the attendees at events, or patrons of the cozy Peregrine bar can casually spill into the street and sidewalks.
This free-form “open house” format is part of a local custom, a tradition, especially in the towns 300 year old historic core, of friendly interaction among patrons of local bars and restaurants abutting the towns beautiful public spaces.
The rooftop space builds on the opportunities for events and great F&B, with a pool terrace and series of gardens, which are configured to work for a variety of events.
designed with Avroko 2011-2015, as Design Director
In midtown Manhattan, Avroko's first completed hotel project, a flagship for the new biophilic luxury concept by W Hotels founder, Barry Sternlicht and his Starwood Capital Group.
The 1Hotel story was ten years in the making. It began in Miami, with a vision for a new brand combining environmental sustainability and groundbreaking luxury. Fitting for a project focused on connection to nature, the concept was forced to evolve in response to changing markets and its own location. Landing in New York, near Manhattan's famous green lung, Central Park, the flagship build forced the owners and their new design team, Avroko, to rethink their assumptions of ideas like context, nature and environment. After all, any 1Hotel is meant to adapt to its location, bringing forth the natural richness of its surroundings and inspiring the guests toward engagement and appreciation.
At Central Park we came to see this "environment" as not just an abstract catch-all for the non-manmade context, but as an inseparable combination of pure nature and human creativity. New York City itself provided the most audacious example of that creativity, and we chose aspects of the city's industrial heritage and building materials with strong connections to the landscape--both natural and cultural--to redefine the nature and environment that would be the focus of this 1Hotel experience.
For Avroko, this was our first major hotel project, and after many previous years of being invited to propose concepts to others, sometimes taking those far into the process of design development, we reached a point during this project when we realized this was the perfect inaugural hotel job for us, and we were the best possible firm who could expertly distill the many cultural, natural and material stories of our city into a luxury hospitality experience. So in the end we were very glad to have patiently persevered in pursuit of this assignment.
Throughout the project recycled materials tell the story of the New York and regional environment, whether by way of timber and artwork provided by the living landscape, or through old barns, watertanks and streets whose materials have their second lives as finishes in our space. Sometimes their stories are told directly via embossed bits of text.
Any review of the projects' many design features requires mention of the infinite surprises presented to us by the process--born of our sustainable mission--of reusing an old apartment building and four adjacent commercial sites for this new luxury hotel. Up until the final few months of construction we made discoveries on site that forced redesigns which benefitted the project. The steel column running through the centers of some guest rooms was an example, this structure having been understood earlier as non-essential and slated for demolition. It was remade as a celebration of urban construction, whether clad in steel or reclaimed oak, and varying by location.
Another fortuitous discovery was a full wall of well preserved terra-cotta block, celebrated in its naked form in the main dining room of Jams, Jonathan Waxman's reincarnated 1980's Manhattan hit. Jams celebrates the environment in its own way with seasonally focused, locally sourced Italian cuisine, and was noteworthy for another aspect of design: the restaurant's private dining spaces and auxiliary events rooms are shared amenities of the hotel, connected via a double height space in the center dining room and a separate stairway. In fact, this 200+ room hotel has no public amenities apart from a small gym and the second level events rooms offered by these restaurant spaces. As such, the restaurant and hotel became integrally connected through programming that optimized use of all available space around the clock. Whether for dinner or daytime meetings, these second level spaces are strikingly warm and elegant, and with their perch above 57th street, Central Park in view, unlike any place in the city.
- Phillip Pond
Quality Meats, Miami
designed with Avroko 2014, as Design Director
For the Miami adventure of this darling Manhattan steakhouse brand, my team and I elaborated on an already rich concept narrative which mingles food history with New York City architecture history. The process began when we discovered our site, with its gem of a 1940s hotel building, was essentially the northern gateway to the world famous art deco district. There was plenty of story in which to play.
With the Floridian migration of the concept as our guide, and convinced of the true spirit of the place, we retrofitted and sidestepped our way through the regulatory minefield of the Historic South Beach building department, bringing forth a richly subdivided interior and a magical series of outdoor 'rooms', often despite the building's strictly protected status.
Duck Duck Goat
designed with Avroko 2014-2015, as Design Director
Chef Stephanie Izard unveils her work in Chinese cuisine, and the design explores the histories of the Chinese diaspora with the same spirit of depth and variety brought by the food.
Located in the burgeoning West Loop neighborhood, Duck Duck Goat is Avroko's third project for the matchless Chicago restaurateurs at The Boka Group and the first venture into Chinese cuisine with chef Stephanie Izard, well known for her James Beard award winning Girl and Goat.
This roughly five thousand square foot venue has a majority of its space devoted to back of house functions, which are distributed through the venue to maximize engagement with the kitchen and bar staff. The heavy compliment of kitchen is also necessary because of the wide ranging exploration of Chinese cooking traditions undertaken by Chef Izard.
That variety of traditions also inspired me and my design team to look for concept inspiration not from a single story or muse, but from the rich history of the Chinese diaspora in America. This matched with the approach in cuisine, which sought to embrace the real history of Chinese cooking without pretending to be wholly authentic. Researching how the standards in Chinese dining experience have been translated to the west, we discovered a rich tradition in the American "Chop Suey" palaces from the 1930's-50's. We realized this imaginative style, part orientalist, part art deco, revealed a point of view about open minded hybridization of design languages that could serve us well here. We came to understand that like the food, we weren't looking for 100% authenticity, but originality drawn from tradition. Our design narrative is a mix, then, based more on the idea of Chinese America than the old country, and brought forth with four distinct stories, styled like theater sets in the different areas of the venue.
Brand identity and signage is also playfully historic, with brushed ink linework elaborating upon the familiar goat logos. Styling elements inside, many built from scratch, evoke merchandise and ephemera from the Chinese immigrant experience. Outside neon signage and a pickup window employ familiar take-out joint tropes to great effect.
designed with Avroko 2014, as Design Director
Momotaro occupies a former warehouse in the industrial West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, where the art, tech industries and gourmet restaurant scene have made this district a worldwide destination. Helmed by Mark Helyar, former chef of Morimoto in Washington and Philadelphia, the dining experience is built around small plates, robata grill based cuisine and a small selection of exquisite sashimi, in other words, lesser known Japanese standards that are offered in contrast to the more typical sushi-heavy menus of most Japanese restaurants in the US.
This innovation in food concept led to an idea about how to represent that set of offerings with a central concept narrative. During our early client sessions, discussing the shared vision for the restaurant experience, we often returned to the story of the after work indulgence in great food and drink among office workers in the alleys or yokocho of Tokyo. Naturally, the salaryman became our muse, and we dug deeper into the history of this archetypal lifestyle of hard work and hard play, in search of design inspiration.
We found the story of the Japanese "Economic Miracle", a golden period of re-building, when Japan was able to leap ahead of most of the world in terms of cosmopolitan culture and global commerce. We took inspiration from the graphics, interiors and ephemera of this creative time period to bring a layered style of old and new to the Momotaro warehouse space.
Somerset at the Viceroy
designed with Avroko 2015, as Design Director
Somerset is the street-level dining venue at the new Viceroy Hotel in Chicago's Golden Triangle district, a well known center of upscale retail, hotels and food. Somerset works both as the hotel's main restaurant, serving guests around the clock, and it also works as a standout character among neighboring stalwarts of the old Chicago scene, Gibsons and Carmines, among others.
The design story for Somerset draws on site history both recent and further in the past. In recent decades this hotel was the site of the somewhat unseemly establishment, The Cedar Hotel, and its well loved seasonal outdoor cafe, which regularly held a casual after work crowd numbering in the hundreds. Riding the gourmet renaissance in the neighborhood, the new hotel and restaurant maintain this lively engagement with the street as a central part of the new design. As such, the outdoor terrace and main dining room still work as one, with the old romanesque facade adapted to open fully to the interior, which itself is oriented to the street, stepping up to a mezzanine area around the bar colosseum style.
More distant history from the neighborhood, outlandish stories about quarrels with a stubborn local who gave the district its old name Streeterville, inspired the conceptual backstory of an officious old sailing club, recast here with some tastefully ironic design statements in art, lighting and materials.
Gotham West Market
contributing as consultant for Avroko 2012
2012 breakthrough NYC mixed use space as neighborhood nucleus in a reborn Hells Kitchen district.
Gotham West Market is a casually presented collection of all-star food and drink vendors alongside carefully selected retail designed to enrich the everyday lives of nearby residents. Beyond pushing limits in the popular and adaptable market hall genre of hospitality venues, GWM sought to build the foundations of a new New York City residential neighborhood. Opening in anticipation of the skyline-redefining mixed use projects that have emerged nearby in the five interceding years, the food venues are complimented by a design oriented cycle shop, gourmet grocer and test kitchen with an active roster of community food events.
Working as a consultant to Avroko, I collaborated with a three member project team on design of common elements, seating layouts, signage infrastructure, dining counters throughout. In addition I worked with the Brooklyn Kitchen team on the design of their shop interior.
Swift & Sons
designed with Avroko 2014, as Design Director
A genre-defying steakhouse with Boka Restaurant Group, offering fine dining, an epically proportioned split level bar, and events spaces with a nod toward the local tech and creative industries.
This 2015 Boka Restaurant Group endeavor is perhaps the most brash undertaking by this well known duo of creative F&B. From the beginning of the project our collective teams debated the complexities of introducing another grand scale steakhouse into the landscape of 'upscale dining rooms for titans of industry' that characterized the old traditional Chicago restaurant scene.
This project had to do more: it had to capture the unique sense of place offered by its West Loop context, and it had to redefine how people approach enjoying this classic genre of American cuisine.
In response, my Avroko project team and I designed an experience that was full of complexity and surprises, changing mood and architectural style area by area throughout the space. Along the way we invented a design vocabulary that took its inspiration from the history of Chicago's food industry, rich narratives with genuine roots in Swift & Sons' own building and neighborhood.
The steakhouse venue is divided into four distinct zones over two levels, and shares kitchens, staff and function spaces with its sister restaurant, Cold Storage, an oyster-focused compliment to Swift, and a fresh daytime oriented departure in style and finish.
Four Seasons Downtown
Conceptual Design 2010 for Yabu Pushelberg, as Team Leader
The Four Seasons Hotel, Downtown NYC, sits across from the World Trade Center site, sharing a block with Cass Gilbert's epic 1912 Woolworth Building.
The design forges new territory in transitional modern style for Four Seasons. Playing on the heritage of the neighborhood Vonnegut called "Skysraper National Park" the colors, lines and vertical attenuation of the design are essential New York vernacular.
Driving the interior style and layout is the evolving ethos of Four Seasons public spaces, finding here a more social and free form embodiment of timeless luxury.
Working as Team Leader for Yabu Pushelberg, I led this project through Concept and Schematic Design before it went on a long hiatus. Seven years later the end product is gorgeous, thanks to my colleagues Rise Endo, Manita Jitngarmkusol, Bob Seidel and others who saw it through. I'm happy to see some remnants of our early work has survived.