If you type in “Atlanta” and “restaurant” in an image search you are sure see one of New York designer Will Meyer‘s projects there: whether it’s the King + Duke or St. Cecilia, both the spaces themselves as well as the food are memorable. Both are owned by Chef Ford Fry, proving that the collaboration between the two makes for a very successful restaurant experience. They know how to create a concept and tell it through the design and food, which is something they will be talking about on September 27th at AmericasMart in Atlanta. Before we attended the talk, we had a few burning questions for Will Meyer.
Was there a specific moment that you remember when you realized that you loved design?
Growing up I always loved drawing. I used to work with my dad who was always building something around the house to make it better. This really inspired me to get into design.
Those early childhood experiences have a big impact! Did you pursue your passion with a formal design education?
Yes, I graduated from Auburn University College of Architecture Design and Construction.
What work or school experience helped you the most as a designer?
I began my career in New York as an intern for the avant-garde architect Peter Eisenman, which led to a full-time position at Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, where I was mentored by the legendary Charles Gwathmey.
Incredible! You must have been taking in every moment. How about later on… When you started your own firm with your business partner Gray Davis, what was your goal? Was there something specific you both wanted to achieve that you felt was missing in the industry?
Our goal is to create a visual narrative. Our work carries allusions that weave the unique qualities of the space and take into account subtle reference of the story we want to tell through our design. The location of the project decides the narrative and where the inspiration develops. There should be a seamlessness between how you experience the building from afar and how you interact with the building internally.
How did you and Chef Ford Fry meet? Had he seen your work before or was it a personal introduction?
Ford had seen one of our previous projects and called to talk about working on King + Duke together. We hit if off on the phone and decided it would be fun to work together.
You’ve designed several of his restaurants. Tell us a little bit about the concept behind St. Cecilia?
The design inspiration for St. Cecilia was drawn from a classic, coastal Italian aesthetic. Meyer Davis infused an upscale European tone into the design, while outfitting the space with hints of antiquity and quirk. The result is a classic and modern restaurant with rustic twists that invites intimate moment within a grand collage of distinct and fresh design elements that lend themselves to the attitude of seaside comfort. A color palette of creams, natural hues and soft light blues contrasted with deeper, marine blues also lends calm and comfort to the space and offers the setting a relaxed vibe. Splashes of character feature throughout and can be found in details like the domed pendant lighting, modern furniture, and décor – all inspired by coastal Italy.
Where do you begin the design process when it comes to restaurant projects? Is it different from working on residential spaces?
Our aesthetic goals don’t differ from public and private spaces, that’s what we like about our work we try to not draw a distinction between public and private. We really focus on creating iconic meaningful spaces to enjoy whether it be a restaurant or a hotel.
Is there something in particular that you love about Atlanta as a city, design related or not?
Atlanta has an interesting design of a high level mix of Southern style, layered with what you would see in an international city. Atlanta’s sophisticated, multi-layered appreciation of design and art create an amazing, stimulated built environment.
What are you looking forward to doing at AmericasMart? Any events or showrooms that stand out?
I look forward to stopping by some of the design showrooms and the talk with Ford Fry.
You can attend the talk between Ford Fry and Will Meyer at AmericasMart, on September 27th at 10 am. They’ll be discussing how to create an unforgettable experience through storytelling. It’s an event not to be missed!