Brown Sugar KitchenAuthor:Abigail Stone
Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen, interior designer Laura Martin Bovard and metalsmith Annie Kantor of Mod Metal Designs create a soul-soaring space for the restaurant’s location in West Oakland. The last year has changed our perspective on the intersection between private and public spaces. For a restaurant owner, this can be particularly perplexing. After all, a restaurant is, inherently, a public space. So, when it came to the design of the latest location of Brown Sugar Kitchen, a Southern Soul food-inspired restaurant, Holland and Bovard turned to Annie Kantor of Mod Metal Designs to help solve this dilemma.
Kantor, a textile designer, turned to metalsmithing, founding Mod Metal Designs five years ago when she couldn’t find what she needed for a project she was working on. “I decided to design something myself,” she remembers. “We create distinctive designs in metal for commercial and residential spaces. I was immediately drawn to this project because here we are, three strong women, three artists, all Oakland-based business owners, coming together to share our skills for one goal.”
For Brown Sugar Kitchen, Holland was hoping to find a way to separate groups of diners in the private dining area. “The trick was to impart a feeling a seclusion yet still allow them to feel connected to the rest of the restaurant,” Kantor explains. The solution would need to be light-penetrable and design-forward. It would need to uphold the restaurant’s sight lines. And there was a short time frame; they would need to be fabricated and installed within four weeks.
The Laser-cut perforated metal screens that Kantor created, in a Moroccan pattern inspired by 13th century Moorish tiles, are the ideal solution, offering a provocative veil between tables. “My background in textile design enabled me to create a fluid design with a repeating pattern that is traditional yet modern and with just enough apertures to let light flow through it,” she says.
“The shimmery powder coat finish in this very modern, urban setting is distinctly contemporary and utterly timeless at the same time,” says Kantor. “I love the feeling when one is in the private dining area looking out. The pattern creates a sense of warmth, sparkling as people move about on the other side.” She adds, “I’m also all about function and I love that my panels served a function here while providing a positive visual sensation.” Paired with Holland’s food, the result is a soothing, calming space that offers warmth and comfort for both body and soul.