Robert At MAD: NYC’s Museum of Arts and Design Opens a New Restaurant

First came The Wright at the Guggenheim Museum. Next is Robert, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) restaurant on Columbus Circle, scheduled to open this upcoming Tuesday. New York museums are getting new restaurants, conceived as collections of contemporary art and design in their own right – through the incorporation of commissioned artwork, custom furniture and iconic modern design.  Both pay homage to late designers in concept and in name.

Robert Restaurant at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

As you probably guessed, Frank Lloyd Wright was the inspiration behind the Guggenheim’s new restaurant. As for Robert, its interior spaces are intended to evoke the elegance, sophistication and celebratory atmosphere for which late party designer Robert Isabell was known. LLC Schefer Design served as the interior architecture, collaborating with London-based American architect Philip Michael Wolfson and San Francisco-based architect Johanna Grawunder on the design of the space. Wolfson’s new one-of-a-kind pieces will stand alongside Vladimir Kagan‘s iconic upholstered work, beneath an architectural canopy of polished and colored acrylic and metal light rectangles by Johanna Grawunder.







Philip Michael Wolfson’s dynamic, sculptural furniture – designed specifically for the space – is an outgrowth of the LINE and SoundForm series which his studio is currently developing. It comprises the restaurant’s 2 reception desks, a 15 foot-long steel communal table with a 6 foot-tall central ‘sound wave’ like element, cocktail tables, and bar stools. “In this new work, I continue to explore the use of line and rhythm as dynamic forces, seeking that place where the sculptural, the utilitarian, and the ergonomic intersect,” he explains.  “I am interested in articulating movement, engaging the space around the object, and meshing ground and object, light and shadow, reflection and refraction. The shift in the dynamics of the interaction between objects and space challenges fundamental ideas about how we inhabit the space around us.”

Grawunder’s pink acrylic panels containing LED lighting are suspended across the dining room ceiling like mobiles. The corridor, with its spectacular views over Central Park, is similarly filled with suspended orange boxes. Each of the panels was specially produced by Flos in Italy, with mirrored edges that amplify the colored light. The effect is dramatic.

Along with Wolfson, Kagan and Grawunder’s work, is “Orbit 2”, a new video art piece by artist Jennifer Steinkamp to be displayed on the restaurant’s 103-inch plasma screen.

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