soho restaurant, ideya

gut renovation

soho, nyc

design: bill peterson

design team: bill peterson, business partner

photography: douglas levere

The owners of the SoHo Latin American Restaurant Ideya were primarily interested in creating and open air green-market feel, but also wanted a flexible space that could be converted into a lounge after hours. First, we observed the pervasive trend in restaurant design toward theatrical or set-like interiors. The sophisticated recreation of a Parisian Brazzerie at nearby Balthazaar is a key example. Furthermore, we identified two important sightlines in typical restaurant interiors, the top edge of the banquette and the ceiling plane, a prominent location for themed materials, from faded period wallpaper to vintage mirror glass with comfortable, tactile seating below.

The design involves a double hung easel system, installed between the back of the banquette and the wall. It accommodates two sets of panels that can be secured in the easel hardware and alternated like scenery, to change the atmosphere of the room. When one set of panels is exposed, the other set drops behind the banquette and out of view. Meanwhile, the exposed pulleys and cables reveal the mechanics behind the transformation.

Because the easels allow the panels to be removed and replaced, Ideya, like its former art gallery neighbors, can install new artwork each season, a long-standing SoHo tradition. Engaging the sense of touch, the banquette itself is upholstered in polypropylene lawn-chair furniture webbing, the simple & inexpensive, yet iconic material of portable green-market furniture, another nod the client’s original objectives.