When the pandemic began, it didn’t take long for me to realize just how important dining out was to my overall mental health. That sense of community and connection is just something you don’t get when you spend 24/7 at home. So when the rug was swept out from under all of us in mid-March and our favorite restaurants and coffee shops were shut down indefinitely, we started to think about the day when things opened back up and what our dream social spaces would look like.
So in the spirit of escapism, we challenged a few of our favorite interior designers in North Carolina to create their dream social space using our new Alfred collection. After sifting through all of the submissions, we picked three fabulous designs. Then, we interviewed each of the three winners to learn more about their concepts and where they drew inspiration from.A Cuban-Inspired Bistro by Casey Anderson
First up is a Cuban-inspired bistro (and a really impressive sketch) by Casey Anderson, an interior designer at Fortuna Enterprises. Casey describes the space as the following:
“The concept for this space is a Cuban influenced bistro. Located in a bustling urban area, the garage door opens up the space creating that welcoming, open air vibe and flooding the space with natural light. Bright colors, warm leather and ample greenery give the space a vibrant but relaxed energy perfect for drinking, dining and socializing. The design acknowledges the European influences in Cuba through use of the prototypical bentwood bistro chair and classic elements like antiqued mirrors. These classic features fuse with the modern vintage aesthetic of Cuba through use of the Alfred chair and boldly patterned tiles. The end result is a casually eclectic social space rich in influence and character.”
A Dreamy Mod Cafe by Rachael Due
Next we have a modern restaurant that we can’t stop drooling over, designed by Rachael Due, a junior commercial designer at Barbour Spangle Design. When we spoke with Rachael she had this to say about her space.
“This modern local cafe encourages connectivity and community. This space is meant to be the perfect destination for any occasion. The overall design evokes a feeling of serenity and comfort through the use of cooler colors and biophilic features. Organic lines create a calm, flowing atmosphere that help to soften sharp edges within the space. Open seating welcomes lively exchanges while private seating areas can be reserved for intimate heart-to-hearts. Living walls and greenery provide a connection to nature while also giving opportunities for an ‘Instagrammable’ moment and reminding us all to ‘see the good’ in everything.”
We also gave her bonus points for sneaking the Frankie communal table into the mix!
An Ode to Dining Out by Kate Horton
Last but certainly not least, we have Kate Horton, a designer with an impressive background that now brings her creative talents to the team at Szostak Design.
“Cities and restaurants are two of my favorite types of places, and I'm missing the energy and experience of both right now. When GR Chair asked us to design a social space, I immediately started dreaming of being in a busy restaurant and having a meal with a big group of friends,” said Horton. “I also have a bit of wanderlust, and this, combined with the mid-modern style of the Alfred chair, led me to pull inspiration from Lenny Kravitz's farm in Brazil, and in particular, the large-scale palm print on the walls. I chose a mix of bold patterns, playful colors, and natural materials to create an inviting, vibrant, lively space where you could spend the afternoon catching up with friends. It's the only place I want to be right now!”
We had to google what Lenny’s farm looked like and it did not disappoint. Honestly, it’s the only place I want to be right now, too!
Our Turn: Breakfast with Alfred by Dean Jeffery
After reviewing all of the designs that were submitted, I wanted to join in on the fun, too. So I opened SketchUp (fun fact: we have symbols available to download for the majority of our products) and whipped up this little breakfast/coffee shop.
A while back I had listened to a podcast about what it was like working at Waffle House for 24 hours, and it was so inspiring… talk about efficiency. Ever since then, I’ve spent hours daydreaming about giving it the old Grand Rapids Chair makeover. For this scaled back space I borrowed a few iconic features from Waffle House’s current design, the globe pendants, the mosaic tiles and warm wood details, but infused a few higher-end mid-century-inspired elements into the mix, including the brass foot ring, the stacked tile design on the back wall, walnut table tops and obviously the Alfred stools and chairs in a dreamy olive green vegan leather.
While restaurants do their best to adapt to the “new normal” we’re patiently waiting for a day when we can eat out with our friends, and spend some quality time in our favorite places. A special thanks goes out to all of the designers that had participated in this competition. To learn more about our new Alfred collection you can click here.