The Right Angle
Nardi + Corsini Associates LLP/Architram Design Group fashions a sleek restaurant from a derelict coffee shop.
Abby Bussel -- Interior Design, 7/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
The only significant remnant of Tiny Naylor's coffee shop in Beverly Hills to survive years of alteration and deterioration is a series of diamond-shaped forms defining its roofline. Originally conceived as a traffic-stopping formal gesture, the diamond-shaped zigzag roof of the Googie-style greasy spoon on North La Cienega—fashioned by two masters of the style, Louis Armet and Eldon Davis, in 1956—is now an integral element of Temple, an 82-seat Euro-Korean restaurant.
Designed by Nardi + Corsini Associates LLP/Architram Design Group of Ontario, California, Temple tones down the former flamboyance of the 2,550-sq.-ft. building (which is owned by Tiny Naylor's son, Chet) with a contrasting palette of dark and light finishes and planes of transparent and translucent glass. Where Armet and Davis's design spoke to the car culture of southern California, Nardi + Corsini's work identifies with the region's sun-culture, blurring the lines between interior and exterior space. Two long, narrow dining areas—one inside, the other on a terrace—run parallel, with a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass in between. Inside, the dining room is separated from the kitchen and office by a black walnut-stained banquette wall. A row of concrete block walls forms the perimeter of the outdoor dining area.
Like the diamonds of the roof, the entrance canopy of Temple is rooted in Armet and Davis's design. After studying the original drawings for the coffee shop, Nardi + Corsini found that beneath layers of old signs was a metal frame, which they altered slightly to create the entrance canopy. They removed the old signage and replaced it with rice paper-patterned acrylic sheeting, creating a suspended, Asian-inspired screen. Below the screen, they installed a new concrete entrance ramp and a reflecting pool. This arrival sequence is meant to transport customers from the streets of Beverly Hills to what the architects call the "ethereal" environment of the restaurant. Once inside, a small bar and waiting area is to the left, while the design's layers of glass, wood, and concrete reveal themselves across an oblique view of the axial arrangement of dining areas to the right.
Nardi + Corsini employed a color palette that alters one's perception of the materials. The concrete block wall of the dining terrace is painted white, lightening its solid presence, whereas the Baltic birch plywood banquette wall inside is finished in a dark walnut color, lending the material more weight. The tiny glass mosaic tiles (applied to a niche in the banquette wall and at the kitchen wall), white epoxy of the floor, aluminum plate, and mirrored glass reflect light in different ways, reducing the visual weight of volumes and surfaces, explain the architects.
Weighty, custom-designed dining tables and benches—somewhat reminiscent of Donald Judd's furniture—contrast with the design's light-reflecting elements. The stark finishes and angular lines of the furnishings are softened by the owner's collection of antique and contemporary celedon, ceremonial Korean vases, and Italian and Royal Copenhagen ceramics, which are displayed in a niche above the banquette seating.