For the new Signature Restaurant for Keswick Hall, Virginia, L’Observatoire International worked with architects Hart Howerton to design a space that would create an elegant yet informal gourmet dining experience for chef Jean-Georges. Working with the rich history of Keswick Hall, architect Hart Howerton created a contemporary yet elegant space that perfectly harnesses the history of the setting while giving it a distinct, fresh aesthetic.
Throughout the project L’Observatoire International’s approach was one of focussing, balancing, and layering light. A series of ambient, accent and decorative lighting fixtures were combined to create a lighting scheme that can subtly change the space from day to night, and which ensures there is direct focus to the food and cuisine at all times, while allowing a low ambient light level and ensuring the decorative fixtures can sparkle in a play of brilliance counter to this.
At all locations lighting focuses the eye to the table and to the cuisine on show, through a series of adjustable, high CRI LED spotlights mounted to ceiling beams and directed to each table and to the art. In contrast, ambient lighting integrated to coves at the ceiling and banquettes balances the atmosphere and subtly accentuates the rich architectural features and selective interior color palette. A series of custom decorative fixtures were also designed to provide a visual warmth and ambience for the restaurant, and to create a series of stunning focal points. A collaboration between the manufacturer, Hart Howerton, and L’Observatoire International, these decorative fixtures were intended to provide a unique atmosphere to the restaurant and create a rich visual depth. Throughout the design process, numerous designs, samples and mock ups were reviewed and carried out, in order to realise this final collection of decorative chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces and table lamps. The central bar was also designed as a significant feature; with multiple layers of lighting integrated within each tier of the bottle and glassware display, creating a stunning backdrop to the service and one of the main visual center pieces of the restaurant.
The combination or curation of each of these lighting layers ensures the interplay between day and night is one that can be felt throughout the restaurant, as the lighting shifts in mood from the lunchtime settings to a more atmospheric and dramatic space for evening dining. The space is kept feeling energized and alive, open yet intimate, a contemporary approach to a historically rich setting.