Villard Michel Richard at the New York Palace Hotel is located in a historic landmarked (or ‘listed’, as others might know the term) space that was previously a neo-Italian Renaissance residence known as The Villard Mansion. Jeffrey Beers International’s designers had the challenge of designing a modern space for the restaurant, whilst retaining the essence of the original building, and also without being able to alter the existing walls, floors or ceilings.
The design team was inspired by the creativity and playfulness of the cuisine of Chef Michel Richard, and incorporates the idea that things may not be what they seem.
The restaurant, which seats 110, makes reference in its design to the classic trompe-l’œil style of painting: ‘the host station appears to be a classic French wood cabinet, but is instead a mirrored glass box glazed with an image of the furniture’ say Jeffrey Beers International; while the back bar is enhanced with a lenticular art installation, that shows either Henry Villard or Michel Richard, depending on the angle it is viewed from.
Different design elements elsewhere in the restaurant combine contemporary glamour with the heritage interiors: The Gallery (a separate tasting room) houses a series of oversized, custom black-and-white photographs of classic Hollywood actresses, along with custom-designed tables lit from within.
The centrepiece of the main dining room, custom-designed by Jeffrey Beers International, is ‘a striking glass wine cube, which encloses one of the landmarked chandeliers. The temperature-controlled cube holds 1000 bottles of red wine; its cooling system is entirely self-contained within the base of the structure.’
The technicalities of installing an air conditioning system to enable this exceptional wine cooler to work and still look beautiful, were dwarfed by the additional challenge of not being able to make any changes to the historical interiors, and the designers collaborated with mechanical engineers to design ‘a unique system [that] pipes cold air through tall glass columns, essentially air ducts made out of glass. The cold air then trickles down and cools all of the bottles equally, working perfectly to solve a very tricky design challenge.’
Images © Eric Laignel