Every design decision Zach Bliss made for Louro Restaurant was in haste. But the final look, which features clean lines, round edges, and gray and vanilla tones, has an undeniable serenity. Here’s the story:
Co-owners Didier Palange and Kiwon Standen decided they wanted to create something new in their West Village restaurant Lowcountry. They partnered with chef David Santos (who hails from acclaimed establishments Per Se and Bouley) and shut down the space for a mere two weeks in order to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter to reopen it as Louro. While raising the money itself was a grand feat, they also wanted to redo the entire space. So they turned to designer Zach Bliss.
Having worked in production design, Bliss was experienced at working under tight time and budgetary constraints. For Louro, his goal was to streamline and open everything up. “I needed a way to do things fast, clean, simple, and super efficient,” he says. Drawing inspiration from Portuguese and Danish midcentury modern furniture, Bliss rid the space of any hard lines, employing soft chamfer edges, smoothing over the doorframe, and washing the walls in a warm gray and soft white. He added bespoke character with handcrafted chandeliers and several inventive DIY features.
Do limitations breed creativity? Read on and you may be inclined to think so.
Above: “I wanted the new micro-seasonal menu to shine,” says Bliss of his intention of a simple, streamlined interior. The previous space was dark and cavernous, which inspired his idea of creating two-tone walls. He painted the lower portion in a chalky gray and the top in an ivory tusk to give it an “opening-up sensation.” To connect the dining space to the kitchen, he made the tabletops out of Ikea butcher block counter tops. Photo by Alice Gao.
Above: “Louro” is the Portuguese word for Bay Leaf, the botanical image that graces the wall. Bliss projected a painting on the empty space and had a local artist outline and sponge shade it. Photo by Alice Gao.
Above: The mirrors behind the bar are framed in rusted steel. Bliss created a bar rail out of mahogany wood that allows the perfect amount of space for an elbow to rest. Photo by Alice Gao.
Above: A DIY for the books: To add interest to large blocks of wall space, Bliss designed bespoke bookshelves with a chambered edge (staying true to to the theme of soft corners and turns). He added context to the shelves with black and white photos he took of the interior of the NYC Public Library. (He manipulated the size of each photo and had Kinko’s put them on matte board for reinforcement. He then completed the DIY project by rounding the edges so each photo fit perfectly inside the shelving units.) The final result often piques diners’ curiosity. “People think they are books,” he says.
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