Online Exclusive - Cupola, San FranciscoAug 15, 2012
By Ashleigh VanHouten; photography by Paul Dyer
Smith says that his team worked closely with the owner and chef to “make sure the look and feel of the space was in sync with the menu.” The design challenge was a familiar one—creating a fashion-forward space on a limited budget—although Smith notes that getting approval on a wood-fired pizza oven wasn’t easy either.
From the mall, Cupola’s entry stands out with a curved Carrera tile façade. And in direct contrast to the homey, bucolic look that so many dining establishments today go to great efforts to achieve, the design goal for the restaurant was to “create a place that was not at all rustic, but sleek, colorful, and sexy,” inspired by the fashion runway or catwalk, referenced in the long red communal tables (Smith’s favorite element of the restaurant) that run the length of the space and lead straight to the star of the show—the Steffano Ferrara Uno Forno pizza oven, handmade in Italy and one of only two in San Francisco.
Polished, sexy details abound: rich graphic wallpaper lines the walls of the restaurant, interrupted intermittently by tall backlit mirrors; glass pendant lights float above, hung from the walnut wood slat ceiling; blackened steel shelving displays the wood needed to fuel the pizza oven; and the main dining area boasts solid walnut slab tables. And the fashion theme continues with shapely walls made in polished stainless steel—essentially more mirrors for the guests to admire themselves and their meals.