- Txikito Restaurant
- ⁄ New York, NY ⁄
- 2009 ⁄
- updated: 09/20/2013
The expansion of this Chelsea restaurant required ingenuity in both the design and the staging of its construction. With only 700 sq. ft. to work with, the clients wanted to double the size of their kitchen, add a 40 seat dining room that could be partially closed off for private events, and create a new signature aesthetic. The work had to be accomplished in six weeks with only seven days of interruption of service for the existing restaurant.
After exploring several ideas for partitioning the new room, the idea of a single pivoting wall took root; it would function spatially, but also become a visual focal point even when the room was subdivided. At the center of the room, we placed a 9’ wide by 7’ tall glass panel held within a steel frame, able to pivot into several positions to orchestrate the seating depending on a given night’s reservations. We suggested that a silhouette on the translucent glass would make a powerful visual icon, and the owners enlisted their friend, the Basque artist Mikel Urmeneta, to create a fantastic "tree of life" depicting images of the traditional Basque culture.
With an ever-changing layout, the room's aesthetic had to be created at the perimeter. We continued the original restaurant's use of recycled barn-boards as the primary material, but elevated this ubiquitous design trend through a more architectural treatment. Mounting the boards 1 1/2” away from the wall and back-lighting them creates a soft, rich quality of light in the room, and produces a sense of transparency and depth at the perimeter giving the impression of a space just beyond the wooden screen. The composition of boards on the walls and ceiling is designed to be at once organic and precise, emulating the blend of rustic and haute influences in the restaurant’s food, and reminiscent of the simple farm structures from which the boards originated.
The western end of the new room opens onto the sidewalk via a horizontal window that stretches the entire width of the storefront. Actually a shortened, glass-paned garage door, the window rolls up into a slot in the ceiling for dining al fresco in good weather. At night, the reflections of lights from passing cars and building facades across the street flow into the room and meld with the reflections of candle-lit patrons on the luminous surface of the central glass wall, making a shimmering and kinetic montage of city life.