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Online Exclusive - Bar Pastoral, Chicago

Jan 10, 2013

By Erinn Waldo

For Bar Pastoral in Chicago, architect Matt Nardella, founder of local firm Moss Design, had his favorite type of clients: those who knew exactly what they wanted. “In this case the owners [Ken Miller and Greg O’Neill] were trying to convey the authenticity and artisanal nature of their goods, supporting their farm/vineyard origins and small-batch, high quality products in a signature setting that is not intimidating,” he explains. “If Bar Pastoral were a room in a house, it would be the country kitchen.”

Taking cues from a previous trip to wineries in France’s Loire Valley, he divided the bistro into two bar areas (one for cheese, one for wine), and infused them with dark hardwood floors, rustic materials and finishes, and dairy farm and vineyard pieces—some antiques, some custom made. It was important, however, “to avoid anything looking ‘faux’ old when we did create new structures or furnishings that also had to be functional,” Nardella explains. “We collaborated with expert Chicago-area light and furniture fabricators to relate the story of Pastoral to actual design elements.”

For instance, a custom pendant light constructed of butter churn handles and milking udders by local artisan Ted Harris illuminates the soapstone cheese bar; moss-green industrial pendants were found at a Chicago architectural salvage warehouse; square dining tables crafted from wine crates are trimmed with salvaged metal from the old shop’s storefront; and custom millwork is made of reclaimed walnut barn wood from Cambridge, Illinois.

“We kept the fixtures and finish materials as simple and modern as possible while relating them to the country kitchen experience,” says Nardella, adding that for a touch of Chicago, they left an exposed brick wall and hollow clay tiles stamped with the word ‘American’ found during demolition. “The design is able to tell a story and reinforce Pastoral's brand without being overbearing or trendy.”

The standout: the barrel vault ceiling, inspired by the earth-sheltered wineries Nardella visited in the Loire Valley, which makes the narrow space appear spacious, yet cozy. Chicago artisan Anna Wolfson applied the natural plaster finish, and the combination diffuses ambient lighting throughout the bistro. “It’s a relatively unique architectural feature in Chicago,” explains Nardella. “It really ties the space together.”

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.



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