Challenge: An over-designed, aquatic-themed restaurant had previously occupied the 9,450-square-foot space intended for Café Lurcat. Located in the affluent community of Naples, Florida, the building, with its barrel-vaulted ceiling, had much to offer Richard D'Amico, CEO of D'Amico & Partners, a Minneapolis-based firm that develops, owns and operates restaurants in Minneapolis and Naples.
The challenge was to create a contemporary, comfortable space for the American cuisine restaurant and lounge within a limited budget. 'We went for a total change of décor,' says D'Amico, who collaborated with Michelle Piontek, KKE Architects, to redesign the space. Specific goals included eliminating the over-designed look, accenting existing architectural features, and lighting a ceiling mural without obstructing guest sightlines or interfering with the mural.
Architectural and Lighting Solution: The most striking feature of the restaurant's dining room is the vaulted ceiling, which is adorned with a reproduction of the Marc Chagall mural that graces the lobby of New York's Metropolitan Opera House. Several lighting systems illuminate the room without compromising the integrity of the artwork.
The stars of the space are three 6-foot-diameter, 65-pound custom-designed pendants suspended from slender cables. Incandescent bulbs beneath the white fabric shades provide downlighting. A sandblasted Plexiglas insert, positioned 12 inches above the bottom rim of each shade, shields direct viewing of the sources by guests below. The central fixture is also equipped with incandescent uplights to softly illuminate the mural.
'I had seen something similar in a hotel lobby in Paris. Then I saw a more traditional-styled version in a New York space. The concept fit in well with the volume of the room,' says D'Amico. 'Michelle and I scaled it to the size we needed to fill the void. We worked with Chris Poehlmann from CP Lighting, who custom fabricated the fixtures.'
Adding to the grandeur of the vault are arched clerestory windows, uplighted by soffit-concealed incandescents. Adjustable track fixtures, reused from the previous restaurant for cost savings, are suspended from newly constructed soffits installed along the vault perimeters. Bolsters between the perimeter banquettes are topped with amber-colored onyx, backlit by two standard fluorescent tubes. The glow uplights the Venetian plastered walls. The overall effect of the dining room lighting is warm and inviting.
Patrons enter Café Lurcat through the lounge; its different areas are defined by decorative fixtures in varied shapes. Rectangular, silk-shaded pendants hang above the glass bartop. Suspended incandescent fixtures featuring drum-shaped fabric shades mark the seating area. Sconces add interest to perimeter walls. The pendants and sconces use incandescent sources. Dramatic accents are provided by pre-existing floor-recessed uplights at the bases of the structural columns. General illumination is cast by MR16s set in the channels between suspended 4-foot-by-8-foot, chocolate-gray wood ceiling panels.
A winding staircase connects the two levels. Concealed beneath the lip of each stair are low-voltage striplights that provide safety lighting. Overhead track lights cast a shadow pattern on the wall of the decorative metal railing retained from the previous restaurant. The lighting components gain added flexibility from a central dimming and control system. The total cost of the lighting was $14,300.
'The budget we had to work with was small, yet we reused some fixtures and made it look completely different,' says Piontek.