5 Union Square West New York, NY 10003, USA
It’s always interesting to understand a little more of a consultancy’s back-story to find out the routes that they have taken and where their passions came from. Growing up in the theatre, with a mother who was a vaudeville dancer and choreographer was obviously a great influence on the consultancy’s founder, David Rockwell. He went on to study architecture before setting up the Rockwell Group in 1984. Today their work ranges from restaurants, hotels, airport terminals, and hospitals, to festivals and museum exhibitions, product design, even their own furniture collections and not surprisingly they have also designed numerous theatre sets.
The business has grown significantly and they now employ 250 staff across their offices in New York, Madrid and Shanghai, equipping them to serve clients around the world.
Rockwell are also very well known for their international work in hospitality creating concepts for well know chains including Le Meridien, W Hotels, Gordon Ramsay and Nobu, for whom they have completed projects in the US and both the Middle and Far East, with recent openings in NY and Doha, Qatar.
As well as designing the interior of Nobu’s restaurant In Doha, Rockwell were also employed as architects, creating a dramatic, spiralling, shell-like building, with a naturalistic interior, that is simultaneously elegant and earthy. In contrast, Nobu in Tribeca, Downtown NY, is located in a listed historic building, with an imposing columned ground floor bar, with sculptural feature elements that draw the eye around the space. Downstairs, Rockwell have been able to exert their influence more fully, creating a rich textural landscape that whets your appetite, even before you start to eat.
On NY’s Lower East Side, diners enter Vandal’s restaurant through a minimalist flower shop, before walking into a maze-like space, choreographed to create a sense of discovery. Vaulted tunnels and rooms layered with graffiti artworks, sensorial materials and low-level lighting add to the atmosphere, creating a different experience in each room.
Their forays into retail haven’t been so numerous, but they have been non-the-less memorable, with Shinola, and toy store FAO Schwarz probably being their best-known projects. Selling bicycles, watches and leather goods, Shinola was designed to showcase America’s manufacturing legacy in a social space. inviting customers to touch the products on display. A lovely store, which in keeping with the merchandise, features custom-made chairs and display furniture commissioned from local craftspeople.
With the rich experience, Rockwell’s restaurant interiors offer our visual and tactile senses, we’d love to hear more from David to understand how he creates concepts that influence our state of mind, our palate and the enjoyment of the food that we are served in his dining rooms.
Union Square Café – Emily Andrews
Nobu Downtown & Doha – Eric Laignel
Prince Gallery Tokyo Kiocho Hotel – Ed Reeve