The only credit Gregory and I can take for the design of Hartsyard is having excellent taste in friends. That friend is Ashley Couch, a partner in the New York Architectural firm Source-X.
Ash designed this space based on our brief of wanting an urban homestead.
Here’s an explanation of how she made it happen…
While we’ve spent nearly all of our adult lives in the city, Naomi, Gregory and I spent a good portion of our early years in the countryside. Hartsyard is definitely urban, but it’s most definitely a little bit country. To add to their desire for a farm kitchen, I challenged myself to take it one step further:
What would an urban farm kitchen look and feel like? Hartsyard is my answer to that question.
Building the dream…
Materials: Iron Pipe and Reclaimed Wood
The plumbing pipe throughout not only is an affordable and unique structural solution, it also is an element seen throughout New York City (my home now and where Gregory and Naomi first met), especially underground in the subway.
We set out from the beginning to reuse as much within the original space as possible. We gave the existing tables their third incarnation (first as terrace floorboards, then as large communal tables and now as smaller refinished 2-tops). Most of the remaining wood came from right out back. 5 to 10-meter-long Oregon timber beams from a nearby building demolition now make up the shelving throughout the space. And, best of all, the banquette bench is made from extinct Tasmanian timber salvaged from the same demolition site.
Finishes: Blackened and Whitewashed
Blackened and whitewashed wood are typical finishes for barns, fences, and furniture in the countryside. The neutral palette is warm and familiar while also allowing the colorful food to command center stage. Already weathered in appearance, these finishes also get better with age. Restaurants, like the city, take a beating so our design encourages these inevitable blemishes and imperfections.
Textiles and Graphics: Urban and Agricultural
For me, one of the most beautiful by-products of the urban condition is the layering of texture, time and colour. En vogue worldwide is the celebration of these textures, whether it’s an exposed brick wall or a weathered steel beam. The 4 graphic panels at Hartsyard are meant to evoke that sense of layering and texture. The “cracks” in the agricultural grids of Iowa and Kansas, for me, imitate the shear cracks in old concrete or brick walls. The colors in the images are meant to mimic the efflorescent drips of salt and rust on the sides of so many buildings. Instead of literally refinishing the space in concrete to give it that ‘urban’ feel, I wanted to recreate the warmth, beauty and the accidental softening this material has on the urban environment. In essence, these graphics are a layering of the agricultural with the urban; their content is abstractly agricultural and their expression is clearly urban.
Another moment of layering is the coupling of the banquette textile (urban) with the images above (agricultural). The ‘scratchy’ pattern used for the banquette cushion, according to Julie Patterson of Cloth Fabric, is inspired by the urban grid, while the graphic images above depict the agricultural grid.
Napkins – a new life for the scrap pile, country-themed yet graphically sophisticated.
Glassware – a staple in Spain, the country where I got my restaurant industry start, and a perfect cultural role model for casual, communal and energized dining.
Goal 1: Design a space for optimal operational efficiency
Naomi, Gregory and I met years ago while living in Santa Monica and Venice Beach, CA. Before moving to LA to pursue a graduate degree in architecture, I spent my 20s opening and running restaurants in Madrid and Washington, DC, working every position from cook to general manager, and pretty much entrenching myself in the restaurant industry. From the time that I took my first restaurant gig, I knew that I wanted to design them.
You may not know it, but most restaurants are horribly designed for those actually working in them.
Goal 2: Design a space that is comfortable and inviting. A little bit like home, but without having to do the cooking or the dishes
Hartsyard is born from nights chatting around the fire pit and sharing countless meals around a large communal table. Hartsyard comes from good times. The design goal was to create a space in which to stage more good times. Good times for us means comfort and warmth, not formality and pretense. It means feeling free to eat with your hands, suck on the bones, even lick your fingers. It also means feeling free to laugh a little too loud sometimes.
Goal 3: Encourage a more direct connection between the people preparing the food and the people eating it
Naomi and Gregory came to me with the initial idea that they wanted to create a space that felt like eating in a farm kitchen. They wanted one large space for both cooking and eating.
Although at 33 Enmore Road we couldn’t open up the kitchen completely, its presence is most definitely felt in the dining room. Upon entering the space, you can smell hickory smoke, see the kitchen’s bright lights, hear the sizzle of a pan, and if you listen closely, you can even hear Gregory calling out orders (and cracking jokes).
Photo credit: Guy Wilkinson Photography