Sustainability has become ''the'' buzzword in the design world over the past few years. It is always impressive when a designer can bring their creativity and vision to materials that once had a life as something else entirely, and work it into something brand new and beautiful to look at.
COLONIE Restaurant is a remarkable example of this type of creativity and thoughtfulness at work. Recently opened in the historical Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of New York City, COLONIE is a fresh destination on a once run-down block that seems to be undergoing a renaissance - as so many neighborhoods in Brooklyn are these days.
Architect Alex Meyers of MADesign had a goal to build the restaurant using recycled materials when possible and marry them with new products to bring a rustic ''barnhouse'' to the otherwise urban Atlantic Avenue. A recycled church pew was reworked and installed as two banquettes in the front windows as well as the banquette that runs along the entire left side of the dining room. Reclaimed wood was used for the floors, ceilings, and tabletops. The tremendous bar mirror is antiqued glass encased in a frame salvaged from the famous (and now closed) Toy Building in nearby Manhattan.
A repurposed steel beam that the owners found on the roof of the building now serves as a chandelier above the dining area. Exposed Edison bulbs bring warmth to the heavy steel and it is at once both industrial and charming. The open kitchen just might be the best part of COLONIE. White subway tiles, shelves stocked with dishware, and piles of pots and pans above the stove make the bar seating quite desirable. The atmosphere is made further approachable and cozy by the communal dining table anchored by a steel beam that can be easily adjusted for larger or smaller parties. The overall design of COLONIE is meant to evoke the experience of one large shared family meal, an urban barn-house if you will.
What could be the most charming fact about this lovable restaurant are the passions that the three owners had for building their ''baby''. Elise Rosenberg, Emelie Kihlstrom, and Tamer Hamawi created a Kickstarter campaign back in the beginning stages of gutting the space. The intent? To raise funds amongst friends, family, and their soon-to-be neighbors in Brooklyn Heights. The funds would go toward the design of the space; purchasing the reworked pieces, vintage fixtures, and one-of-a-kind details they found at flea markets or auctions throughout NYC.
Amidst the exposed brick, reclaimed wood, steel casement windows, and industrial lighting, a burst of green serves as the dynamic centerpiece of Colonie. The ''living wall'' (as the owners refer to it) is a vertical garden, lush and wild, complete with edible herbs. It truly brings an extra ''something'' to the space and this green burst of life has the passersby retracing their steps to have another peek inside.
127 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11201