Would You Like Fries With That?
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 11/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Ali Tayar's interior for New York restaurant Pop has a look with staying power, continuing to draw customers five years on. To expand the brand and take it in a slightly new direction, owner Roy Liebenthal rehired Tayar's Parallel Design Partnership to handle Pop Burger.
Moving away from the original Pop's swank mid-century inflections, Tayar came up with an edgier version of the burger joint and saloon—one eye-catching enough to be patronized by Bridget Hall, Gisele Bundchen, and Serena and Venus Williams. "The concept is typically American," says Tayar, who used patriotic Stars and Stripes colors to differentiate the 3,000-square-foot restaurant's front and rear zones.
The blue-and-white front of the space is a 30-seat burger joint. Since it's primarily for daytime takeout and quick bites, Tayar went for casual minimalism. His own Rasamny chairs, in teak and blue anodized aluminum, flank custom tables of stainless steel and plywood, topped with white plastic laminate. To divide this area from the rear zone, Tayar installed an aluminum-clad wall, then had it laser-etched with backlit letters spelling sexually suggestive fast-food words provided by Liebenthal's artist friend Ronnie Cutrone: warm buns, creamy shakes, etc. "It's visible from the street," says Tayar. "It brings people in."
Behind the punchy, provocative wall, the red-and-white saloon is decidedly more loungelike. Tayar designed round plywood-topped tables, pairing them with Jean Prouvé's molded-plywood Antony chairs, and installed a red felt-upholstered custom banquette along two perpendicular walls. The banquette faces an oak bar with a glassware rack inspired by Marcel Duchamp's bottle-rack "ready-made."
Because the ceiling wasn't level, the designer turned to custom panels, an idea he'd used for Pop. At Pop Burger, he perforated red aluminum squares with a circle and dash pattern and suspended them to follow the slope of the ceiling from 7 to 11 feet. Flooring is rough, raw white oak, as are the backlit vertical planks lining the walls above the banquette.
Near the top of the wall planks, Tayar placed a row of 30 pairs of speakers, since music is one of Liebenthal's loves. "Roy took me to a Rolling Stones concert just to show me how important rock was to him," says Tayar. At night, the speakers pulse with everything from Bob Marley to techno, a selection worthy of the most urban cowboys.