Article contributed by Temi J. Sacks
Buried and hidden treasure may be the stuff of legend and film, but treasure hunters exist – both professionals and hobbyists.
Take for example architecturologists, those who work in the field of architectural salvage who recycle and upcycle important historic building architectural pieces such as gargoyles, industrial lighting, crystal chandeliers, mantels and reclaimed items such as chicken wire glass and wrought iron gates, according to Jim DiGiacoma of Olde Good Things, the nation’s leading architectural salvage company with retail locations in New York, Los Angeles and Scranton, PA as well as a major online presence.
Unlike demolition, architectural deconstruction requires finesse instead of shear force. Reusable items such as large stained-glass windows, marble fireplaces, large mirrors and intricate cabinetry can lose their value if they are damaged during the salvage process.
“Today we are finding that many restaurant owners and interior designers are increasingly applying this sustainable aesthetic as a modern industrial chic décor,” noted DiGiacoma.
It is a growing trend that’s being embraced in the hospitality industry as seen by Olde Good Things’ creative partnerships with each of the following restaurants:
“This is my restaurant, not something I inherited, and I was looking for fresh ideas,” says Angie Mar, owner of New York-based Les Trois Cheveux. This dramatic 55” in diameter crystal chandelier created just the right focal point in the bar area of her West Village eatery.
Restaurateur Viron Rondos was looking for a huge, dramatic statement piece to hang over the bar of his mid-century modern design restaurant in Cheshire, CT Viron Rondos Osteria. He discovered a 14’ x 8’ chandelier with 385 lighted arms that had been removed with care from the New York Film Academy Theater by Olde Good Things.
“I called my architect to see if it would fit and he said, ‘The bigger the better.’”
Designer Erica Diskin, Assembly Design Studio, as a restaurant designer, she noted that “It’s our job to create an authentic dining experience that supports the often lofty culinary goals of ownership. As the saying goes, you eat with your eyes first. So, it’s very important that your surroundings show the same level of attention to detail that a five-star chef would show in the kitchen.”
“The reclaimed pieces we’ve been able to place in our projects are almost always the most talked about design elements in the room. Perfectly worn, full of history, and impossible to recreate,” notes Diskin. “Successful architectural salvage examples include: the use of chicken wire glass to create partitions, a pair of gorgeous copper fire doors that we hung on brick and used as decorative sliding video screen covers at The Broadway in South Boston.
We also refurbished vintage shoe racks that were used as a dramatic bread display at Capo in South Boston.
Designer Alsun Keogh of Nusla Designs, created the industrial chic look at Washington, DC’s Nicoletta Italian Kitchen and Brew’d Coffee Bar, top photo, by mixing layers of architecturally salvaged industrial holophane fixtures with steel and glass elements. A partition wall created from raw steel and using large sheets of corrugated chicken wire from old factories separates the bar and the main dining room without closing off either space.
“The seating is leather, rich, dark and comfortable, while the tables are made from recycled industrial floors including original screws,” Keogh noted, “Old French school chairs add a whimsical touch. Lighting fixtures made from WWI machine gun parts and Edison bulbs continue the industrial chic effect into the bathrooms. And a makeshift wine display was created from old 1950s office cabinets filled with old legal books, wine bottles and votive candles for a charming accent wall.”
Restaurateur Seth McClelland notes that the atmosphere rates as the most important thing that causes a customer to return again and again.
“Architectural salvage has been crucial to the authenticity of the atmosphere in my venues,” said McClelland. “To help create a cozy conversation area in my prohibition-era speakeasy, The Mirror, Washington, DC, I added a soft cocoa leather couch, vintage cocktail table, crystal chandelier and industrial metal stools.”
Temi J. Sacks is a journalist, book author and the president of New York-based public relations agency T. J. Sacks & Associates. Learn more at https://tjsacks.com/