Luck, Be A Ladle pix
Engstrom Design Group interprets the woods of Northern California at Bradley Ogden restaurant in Caesars Palace
David Kaufman -- Interior Design, 3/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse were already holding court in Sin City, so why shouldn't Bradley Ogden? The once wunderkind chef of San Francisco's Campton Place has spent the past 16 years parlaying his signature California cuisine into eight restaurants on the Left Coast. And as he and his business partner, Michael Dellar, planned a first venture outside the state line, they decided to take the obvious next step toward securing a star in the celebrity-chef firmament—launching a namesake Ogden outpost in Las Vegas.
After obtaining a 9,800-square-foot location for the new Bradley Ogden in Caesars Palace, the chef-owner still needed a design to keep his refined menu—oak-grilled pheasant is a seasonal favorite—from colliding with the more populist atmospheres in the neighboring casino and 4,100-seat Coliseum theater, where headliners include Elton John and Jerry Seinfeld.
That job fell to Engstrom Design Group, which had previously created Ogden's earth-toned Parcel 104 restaurant in Santa Clara, California. But for the Vegas venture, the firm had to install a woodsy retreat in nondescript former offices for casino staff.
"Hundreds of slot machines, thousands of gamblers, and Celine Dion were all right outside the door," recalls Engstrom design director and CEO Jennifer Johanson.
First, designers created a buffer zone, soundproofing the space with 3/8-inch-thick glass that spans the front facing the casino. Over the huge windows, Engstrom installed 12-foot-high mahogany louvered blinds, which decorate the front when raised and elegantly shutter it when they're drawn. Inside, a combination of warm lamplight, leather-covered seating, and natural materials such as mahogany, redwood, and onyx help further separate diners from the hubbub next door.
"We also created a sense of intimacy by using the existing low ceiling heights," says Johanson. "It's like Bradley is entertaining in a private Napa Valley dining room."
In the 2,500-square-foot lounge, redwood panels give a 40-foot expanse of wall some residential coziness. Look up, and the 20-foot-high ceiling is brought closer by trellises overhead, also made of redwood. These are a nod to the vineyard architecture in Ogden's culinary backyard of Northern California. Suspended between their slats are drum-shape pendant fixtures made of silk stretched over a wire frame and embellished with blown-glass finials—the forms are not unlike lamps one might find hanging in rustic weekend lodges owned by city slickers. The rural references gain a sophisticated edge, thanks to groups of low rectilinear benches, ottomans, and club chairs in shades of brown leather upholstery.
Nearby, above the 35-foot-long U-shape bar, the ceiling pitches upward 22 feet in a series of panels. These are attached to ceiling beams by metal brackets. A 12-by-10-foot wine rack, made of redwood and bronzed steel, screens the bar's activity from the calmer scene in the main dining room.
The restaurant seats 250. But spotlights, barrel-back booths covered in a polyester-cotton-rayon blend and leather-look vinyl-covered chairs transport diners far from gamers outside the door. One wall is bordered by Pullman-style booths where images of the foggy California coastline are projected from trans-lucent light boxes. An impressionistic painting of fruit echoes the orange and yellow of one that's more whimsical in a private dining room.
Designers saved the richest textures for wall coverings of handmade paper and faux suede. A forest motif is silk-screened on illuminated sheer georgette. "It should feel residential," says Johanson. Even in Vegas, there's no place like home.