“When I came on board with the project, the design aspect was quite well advanced, however I participated towards the end in making sure we created a concept that was casual, friendly, warm and high energy, keeping in mind we were building a neighborhood bistro.” – Eric Ripert on the design of Westend Bistro, exclusively for We Love DC
Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert, opened in 2007 at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C., is not your typical, often lackluster hotel restaurant. Apart from the exceptional service – synonymous with the Ritz-Carlton brand, one would never guess that they were dining amongst hotel guests and visitors. Westend Bistro feels like that friendly, neighborhood spot. The place you know you can always count on – with phenomenal food and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Design is everywhere. Your toothbrush is designed, your office is designed, and even the carts at the grocery store are designed (next time check out the difference between the elongated single carts and the compact double carts – the latter makes maneuvering through a crowded aisle much, much easier). Design is truly meant to improve the physical and emotional relationship that we have with a space or a product.
Having spent a couple of years studying design, my sense of awareness in regards to its implications has been heightened. No matter what I do, I take notice – the good, the bad, and the extremely ugly. And one type of environment that has always left me wondering is the hair salon. Why the heck do they all look and feel like clones? High-end salons are almost always ornamented with chandeliers; trendy salons love to play glaring music – the louder the better; and I don’t think a “budget cut” salon exists without some dated, checkered vinyl flooring. Can’t someone please answer my salon design woes and create something truly unique?
And in fact someone has finally answered my prayers! His name is Kelly Gorsuch and he is the owner of Immortal Beloved.
From the moment you find yourself standing in front of two enormous, yet intricately detailed, iron-clad gates, reading the brand’s etched signage, you just know that you are about to embark on a rather exceptional experience.
The play on monumental proportions continues once you step inside the door. Don’t be fooled by the cozy entryway, with its stunning mosaic stone rugs, because as soon as you turn the corner to enter the bar and dining area, the ceilings rise and the floor plate drastically expands. Quite atypical for the DC-scene, Buddha Bar consists of 9,500-square-feet of space and has 22-foot high ceilings.
The National Press Club, rich in historical context and paramount in its mission, is best-known as a retreat for the affiliates within the journalism industry. As a Washington, D.C. fixture, the feeling evoked upon entrance into the Club could best be compared to the dilemma that a young child may face as they enter the formal living room of the home – you are in complete awe of its presence and utterly afraid of breaking something, yet, somehow still manage to want to touch everything in sight.
The good thing is that what differs between this presented scenario and that of my first visit to the National Press Club, is that at the Club exploration is not only encouraged – it is celebrated.
A bit over a year ago, as I was sitting in my Institutional Design Studio, I was flipping through my favorite magazine – Metropolis – when I came across a feature story on Georgetown’s Sweetgreen. I was in awe of the historic retrofit, the building used to house the Little Tavern hamburger ‘hut’, in conjunction with its eco-friendly and streamlined interior – I knew that as soon as class was over I would be off towards M Street in order to explore further. Could it be true? Does a piece of design paradise exist with-in a 460-square foot envelope just down the street from me?
Fast-forward a year later, to yesterday actually, where my investigation of Sweetgreen continued with Nic Jammet, one of the restaurants three owners (the others are Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru), at their newest location in Logan Circle.