Concept artist takes cinema vision to the restaurant biz
As a concept artist, Syd Mead has created such iconic film props as the vehicles in “Blade Runner,” the typeface and light cycles in “Tron” and the mask maker in the third “Mission: Impossible.”Mead is now taking his futuristic visions to the restaurant biz with Food Parc and Bar Basque in New York City, the former of which has already been dubbed “the ‘Blade Runner’ project” of restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow (the man behind Asia de Cuba and China Grill) by bloggers. “I treated it like a movie set for a movie that will never be made,” says Mead of his designs for the venues that start officially feeding customers next month. “The food is the star and the rest of the cast are the patrons.” The final design clearly features elements the 77-year-old film vet is known for: textured geometric shapes, soft lighting and shades of color that enable dark and metallic accents to stand out. Food Parc is a massive 15,000-square-foot collection of gourmet food stations, with tiered seating inside, that flows into a serene park-like plaza. The second space, Bar Basque, is a restaurant focused on Spanish fare, with bright red walls, and black and chrome accents. Developers of the new 54-story building on Sixth Avenue between 29th and 30th streets that houses the eateries wanted to work with a designer who hadn’t conceived of a restaurant before. The building also houses Eventi, a Kimpton Hotels property, and apartments. “They wanted something different,” says Mead of the restaurants that are expected to feed some 3,000 people a day — the same number as cruise ships. Different but not too extreme. “It’s neutral enough both in shape and decor and iconic accents that people can enjoy it without having to think about what it is,” Mead says. Mead’s designs had to be translated for the final construction, as is usually the case with his work. “I will think up a rationale for what it should look like, and that gets matched up with a given space and local building codes,” he says. It was only a matter of time before Mead added restaurants to his resume. He’s already conjured up designs for two casino bars in Tokyo, plans for theme parks in other parts of Asia, reimagined an earthquake-damaged dock in Kobe, Japan, and designed the interiors of three 747 jumbo jets for heads of state. Mead likes that kind of variety. “Every time you take on a new project you start from zero,” Mead says. “Otherwise you fall into the trap of repeating your personal preference.”
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