When Chef Austin Johnson and Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson conceived the atmosphere at their new restaurant One White Street, they turned to Richard Felix-Ashman Design to elevate the atmosphere of a restored townhouse in Tribeca to a mindful space focused on the experience of gathering to enjoy food and wine.
We pulled Richard aside to get his perspective on fine tuning design elements at home to foster a welcoming environment for wine tasting parties or wine dinner gatherings. Here are his top five tips to level up any space for an ideal entertaining haven:
1. The key factors should be the food, wine, and your company.
The interior design is a complimentary frame experience — it should not compete. When designing, Richard asks himself: “How can design elevate the experience, without being the dominant influence on memory?”
2. Good interior design enhances personal experience in layers.
Layering adds balance and depth to a space. The soul of the space, however, is always the people and their experience.
The first layer is spatial. Organizing the seating and circulation in a harmonious way enhances ease of movement and respect for personal space.
The next layer is warm and clear lighting. Combine different strata of lighting from daylight through ambient lighting to decorative pieces which act as jewelry within the space. Each has its own function, and as a whole creates a comforting environment.
Finally we consider materials, furnishings, and color. These should be appropriate to the space and to the guest – it’s an interplay of these three that gives human scale and comfort.
For texture, the use of simple, natural materials is vital: wood, stone, wool, ceramic, and brass. These are materials that are familiar, domestic, and honest. Natural materials have their own beauty and character. They are not precious, and can be touched without concern. They age gracefully. Keeping the tonality light and neutral also showcases the experience within the space, so keep the perimeter as clean as possible. Use blocks of color strategically, so that the eye doesn’t dart around the space too quickly. Strive for calm and natural interiors which I hope bring comfort and ease to the guests.
3. Focus the table’s attention inward, showcase the food and wine with beautiful plates, glassware, and small taper candles. To add warmth to a room, I love Akari paper lamps for their glowing softness. They are an investment, but will last lifetimes if treated with love, and they compliment any style of interior. Place one on the floor or on a sideboard.
4. Last but not least: for a personal, tactile experience, there is nothing more reassuring than a 100% linen napkin. March has beautiful, ethical options from natural to indigo. Lastly, have a few small, soft linen pillows available as bolsters to offer to guests for added comfort and support.