Cafe, Bar, Private dining in SoHo NYC, November 2011 - May 2012


We were asked to design an elegantly warm and intimate space for Cafe Kristall where guests can go to enjoy fine Austrian cuisine and beverages, and discover a welcoming place that combines highlights from other Kurt Gutenbrunner restaurants, its SoHo location, and the adjacent Swarovski Crystallized store. The main café caters to the public from lunch until the early evening and the downstairs is designated for special events and private dinners. Everywhere in the space one is surrounded by interesting objects, art, textures, smells, and original design. 

Upon entering you are faced with a succession of cherry wood arches that define each of the areas of the restaurant. The arches are designed to aesthetically and experientially reference the hexagonal shape of mountain crystals; each arch is delineated by 30º-angle cuts and lined with hexagonal profiles. All other architectural elements that involve touch, such as the handrails along the stairwell and all of the door handles use this crystal-shaped wood as well. The arch separating the café area from the bar holds an arrangement of fresh flowers, which compliments the branch-like chandelier, Blossom hanging over the dining tables. We have placed Adolf Loos Thonet chairs from his legendary Cafe Museum in Vienna alongside the soft Carrara marble tabletops. The floral upholstery of the banquets and the silver curtains are both fabrics from Backhausen, the traditional Austrian manufacturer. 

As you walk through the arches, you see the sparkling reflection of the chandeliers stream across the gray-toned glitter walls. All of the exhibited chandeliers were selected from the contemporary collection of Swarovski Crystal Palace. A small sphere-shaped chandelier, Ball, designed by Tom Dixon, greets the guests at the Mercer Street entrance and appears again, in much greater scale, hovering above the marble bar, and casting a double reflection within the tilted mirror and the glossy ceiling.  This larger Ball is the central element of the bar area and draws the attention from the visitors entering from the Swarovski Crystallized store on Broadway. 

Suspended in front of the intimate niche we hung Light Sock, the humorous interpretation of a classic chandelier by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Inside the niche there is a mirror installation designed and custom-made by our office for Cafe Kristall. Descending the stairs into the lower level, you pass the cylindrical chandelier, Cascade, and find yourself in the private dining room illuminated by the graphically strong vertical and horizontal Glitter Boxes by Georg Baldele.


Project team: Adrian Madlener, Gunhild Buskov Romme, Madeline Hollander, Peter Dumbadze
General contractor and high-end finishes: Stephen Crawford
Woodwork: Soft Sails Consulting LLC, Bill Watters
Electrical installation: Pulsar Electrics
Upholstery: Laurel Blackmore
Carpets: ID Cleaners & Carpeting Inc.
Curtains: Alan Schatzberg & Associates, Inc.
Client: Swarovski North America Ltd., Reinhard Mackinger, Jason Morrison
Operator: Kurt Gutenbrunner, KGNY
Manager: Francis Reynard, KGNY

Materials:Drywalls, canvas, pigments, Homasote

Photography: Photo 3, 5, 6 and 8 by Adrian Wilson



Café Kristall