When chef Marcus Samuelsson decided to open his first standalone restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area, he pulled in design agency Parts and Labor Design, a New York City-based firm, to deliver a space that celebrates Americana style through the cultural lens of Baltimore and the nation’s capital.
Situated within a new luxury resort, the restaurant’s aesthetic pays homage to the chef’s multicultural background and personal style, celebrating a rediscovery of American craft rooted in African American influences, local music and urban lifestyle.
Andrew Cohen and Jeremy Leavitt, Principals and Owners of Parts and Labor Design, explain how Marcus’ roots are translated into the interior design concept: “Guests can enter the restaurant through an outdoor space that features geometric floor tiles and furniture that takes cues from modern and colonial styles, backed by a custom glass façade. Inside, a charming entry hall features an intricate compass rose inlay on the floor that serves as a nod to American craft.
“Tucked in the back of the restaurant, a French-colonial-inspired sliding door opens into a prohibition-style supper club with live musical acts reminiscent of Harlem’s jazz clubs"
“The 84-seat main dining room showcases custom-made tribal wall tapestries and African-influenced artwork and photography. A central open kitchen and raw bar features wooden coffered ceilings, colonial millwork, and a deep amber and cream coloured palette. Behind the expo-style kitchen, old craftsman tools, such as antique saws and drills, hang on custom made brass hooks.”
Andrew and Jeremy continue: “Tucked in the back of the restaurant, a French-colonial-inspired sliding door opens into a prohibition-style supper club with live musical acts reminiscent of Harlem’s jazz clubs.”
One of the pair’s favourite design elements is the multi-faceted experience throughout the space. As guests walk through the space, the design elements flow seamlessly through the main bar, the raw bar, the open kitchen and the supper club. What makes that really successful is how they’re laid in the restaurant – as you move through one, the next presents itself.
"Marcus’ personality is beaming throughout the restaurant – from the patterns and colours to the furniture and light fixtures. We strove to incorporate his personality into the space and think it’s apparent in every detail.”
The use of pattern in the restaurants also stands out as a favourite design element. Incorporating a variety of patterns, colours and textures was a necessity, but the challenge was to find a way to interweave those varied elements into one cohesive design. Jeremy and Andrew comment: “We layered multiple patterns and textures, resulting in a successful juxtaposition.”
Another challenge encountered by the team was the actual shape of the space. Jeremy and Andrew recall: “We went through multiple iterations of floorplans and furniture layouts during the design process until we arrived at a plan that worked.”
Marcus Samuelsson’s values are about community and paying homage to culture – and this restaurant does just that. Parts and Labor Design have created a social and positive atmosphere that will attract both locals and tourists alike.
The pair conclude: “Marcus’ personality is beaming throughout the restaurant – from the patterns and colours to the furniture and light fixtures. We strove to incorporate his personality into the space and think it’s apparent in every detail.”