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Online Exclusive – 1200 Miles, New York

May 28, 2014

By Michael Adams

“It was a whirlwind,” says Ed Ku, co-principal [with partner Etienne Coffinier] of New York-based Coffinier Ku Design, describing the amazingly short timeframe they were allotted to completely transform a Chelsea restaurant from one style to another.


“We met [owner] Mark Stern,” says Ku, “and talked about how we might approach the design, and two months later, the restaurant opened. We basically had four weeks until the old restaurant closed and the new opening. We ordered fabrics, new chairs, new lighting, new translucent room dividers, floor coverings, designed new banquettes and arranged for arranged for various millwork we designed to be built, including a freestanding bar.”


The design theme is reflected in the restaurant’s name: 1,200 miles is the distance between Paris and Algeria, and Coffinier-Ku took inspiration from both destinations—as well as New York City. The blend was perfect for Coffinier, a Frenchman who was born in Algiers, but who is now a longtime New Yorker. His personal pièce de resistance is a large map he created that shows various routes of travel from Paris to Algiers, and framed in a Berber-type fabric. Other maps dot the restaurant, referencing France, Algeria, the Mediterranean, and even the classic Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover, substituting Marseilles for Manhattan. “I found myself exploring different parts of my life in creating the map,” says Coffinier. “I included my grandparents’ house in Algiers and my favorite Citroën DS, the first car I remember dreaming of.”

The space is large and industrial, with two front room lounges, an enormous wooden bar with a white subway tile backsplash, and a rugged chef’s table. A dining room on the mezzanine features a large banquette in sections of camel and mohair velvets interspersed with insets of woven fabrics that resemble blankets, “but,” says Ku, “are actually trimmed with a sophisticated French trim.” White table-clothed tables with Thonet bentwood chairs provide additional seating.

A metal partition with translucent resin panels separates the mezzanine from the rest of the space. Framed mirrors, bespoke banquettes, and charming ottomans brighten the room and magically create a blend of styles. Lighting fixtures, a mix of modern and whimsical, help enhance the charmingly eclectic feel.

“We actually loved working so quickly on this project,” says Ku. “You absolutely have to dedicate yourself to it, and you see the project as a whole because everything develops at the same time. You’re not constrained by a decision you might make first and then feel wed to.”


hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



Produced by: Emerald Expositions
Nielsen      Contract Design | Hospitality Design | K+BB | DDI

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