Sunday, May 04, 2008

Stephen Starr's NYC Morimoto Again Nominated For Best Design By James Beard Foundation

Morimoto is striking, no doubt.
When the James Beard Foundation Awards are announced in early June, New York is guaranteed to be a winner — at least in the Outstanding Restaurant Design category, where, for the second straight year, the nominees are all Manhattan-based establishments.
The dominance of the city in this category is so emphatic, in fact, that the foundation, through a quirk in its nominating process — designs are eligible for the nomination for three years after they make their debut — has allowed Morimoto to be nominated in both 2007 and 2008.
Perhaps no movement in dining design is more evident to the average New York diner than the rise of the mega-restaurant, epitomized by the gargantuan spaces found on Tenth Avenue, including restaurateur Stephen Starr's Morimoto — named for chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Glass walls that begin upstairs in Morimoto appear to continue on the basement level. Bathroom stalls are equipped with mirrors tricked out to show infinite reflections of suspended flowers. An undulating canvas ceiling in the dining room is meant to evoke the rakings in a Japanese Zen sandbox. Even Morimoto's designer Tadao Ando — a vaunted Japanese architect — is a big deal.

Morimoto also signifies restaurant design's current willingness to play with light and technology. The space's most famous aspect is arguably a room-dividing wall of 15,000 clear plastic Ty Nant water bottles, backlit in shades of pale blue and green by hundreds of LED lights.
But such extravagance does not come without a cost.
One development not seen in this year's roster of nominees — downsizing — may be the hallmark of the category in years to come. After all, a troubled economy and opulent décor do not mix. "It's becoming more and more difficult to spend money on design, because things are costing too much," Mr. Starr of Morimoto said, noting that his future restaurant projects will incorporate simpler schemes. "I could not do this restaurant again today."
Really? Hmm. You know what they say Stephen — can't be afraid to spend.

So don't skimp on design. Especially not on any of your Philly projects. (Although, Parc, the Sofitel and the Chestnut Street Gastropub designs shouldn't even approach Morimoto-level opulence.) Capiche?

New York's James Beard Design Nominees [ New York Sun via ]

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