A collaboration between celebrity chef Bobby Flay and partner Laurence Kretchmer, the Bar Americain restaurant in Midtown Manhattan was redesigned from a preexisting space by the Rockwell Group. In order to create intimacy in the 36-foot-by-88-foot restaurant (the highest point of the ceiling measures 23 1/2 feet), the lighting team created focal points, then added layers of decorative fixtures for an inviting glow.
While the semi-open kitchen and adjoining shellfish bar are saturated with light to achieve sparkle, elongating the space and denoting it as a major focal point, the visual anchor of the restaurant is the bar, which is bordered with frosted glass and backlit with 25W A15 lamps. Contained within the backlit frame is a multilevel, multifaceted mirror. 'When it's crowded,' says Focus Lighting designer Christine Hope, 'you get a great reflection of kinetic energy. The zinc and frosted glass borders evoke the feeling of a dramatic proscenium arch, where the clientele, reflected in the mirrors, is onstage.' PAR30 strips uplight the Venetian plaster walls around the perimeter of the room, 'framing the action and creating a visually unifying wrapper. One that draws attention to the cavernous space,' Hope explains.
A series of decorative fixtures, designed with the Rockwell Group, create an amber luminosity in the space. This is achieved with two sets of four oversized custom pendants stemming from an illuminated vertical column, which fill the restaurant's giant volume and serve a dual purpose: four 100W A-lamps provide a soft internal illumination, while 50W MR16 adjustable accents highlight the tables below and wash the ceiling above. Amber wall sconces, comprised of frosted glass tubes lined with amber sleeves, are arranged vertically around the perimeter of the room and fitted with an incandescent tube lamp for a warm glow. This effect is extended to the banquettes, where amber-gelled fluorescents backlight art glass panels to create a cozy envelope of light from each side.
Compared to the glow of a campfire, the restaurant's soft tawny hue is a particular hit with the clientele. As Gregory says, 'Everyone loves to be in a space where they look wonderful.'