Ali Tayar creates a sleek, sexy design for Midway, a new restaurant in Manhattan's West Village.
Henry Urbach -- Interior Design, 9/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Nearly five years ago, Ali Tayar of Parallel Design transformed a far West Village automotive garage into Waterloo, a 2,700-sq.-ft. restaurant that rode the crest of the Belgian food trend and contributed to the neighborhood's emerging nightlife scene. The restaurant's owners (who also own the nearby restaurant Le Zoo) decided last year to reinvent Waterloo while maintaining the same location, chef, and customer profile. Their latest creation is Midway, a new American restaurant that specializes in elevated comfort food.
Given the rare opportunity to remake his design, Tayar focused on giving Midway an identity distinct from Waterloo. "The space was the same," he says, "so we tried to make a set of reversals." Overall, Tayar turned an intimate, introverted room into a fluid and flexible space defined by sturdy planar elements. Apart from the white brick walls, all other surfaces went from light and neutral tones to saturated, dark ones. The building façade, formerly made of translucent glass, was replaced with clear glazing. Exposed fixtures supplanted indirect lighting, including a magical cloud formation of suspended, egg-shaped plastic lamps that slope over the main dining area. Finally, Tayar replaced the quilt-like fabric panels that screened the kitchen and service areas from the dining room with a screen of perforated-aluminum panels, ingeniously adapted from an inexpensive material used to construct catwalks.
"I wanted to see if I could capture significant elements of the traditional American diner without being literal," Tayar explains. He created a set of seven booths, which function as movable pieces of furniture that can be arranged as individual elements, or end-to-end as a long banquette. The units, covered in a sexy, high-tech polyester mesh, have small side panels inspired by Pullman train cars, lending a bit of privacy to individual booths wherever they are located. Tayar also revisited the traditional above-bar diner mirror as a floating assemblage of mirrored glass brick with beveled edges. Pragmatism, urban comfort, and exuberance animate the new interior—held together by Tayar's characteristic ability to elaborate a smart design concept in various configurations.