In the spring of 2019, we were asked to help realize the design vision which would expand the beloved Carissa’s the Bakery into a larger restaurant at 221 Pantigo Road in East Hampton. In the fall of 2020, Carissa’s won the JAMES BEARD AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DESIGN OF ALTERNATIVE EATING AND DRINKING PLACES. We are honored to have been a part of its creation.
We admired our client’s architectural restraint: the building stripped and rebuilt with high quality materials and an excellent sense of proportion, with no unnecessary ornament. The walls artfully plastered by See Studios, the floors a polished concrete. We realized we could contribute the most by adding age and warmth in the form of vintage pieces and organic materials: oak dining chairs, Borge Mogensen’s Folkestolen, that we sourced from Denmark, and weather-worn milking stools from Sweden which would be scattered throughout the garden.
A table Patrick and I had made from an antique Belgian base and a thick slab of stone with fossil inclusions was installed in the café area, lending the otherwise clean and minimalist room the gravity and uniqueness of age.
We chose even the new furnishings for their vintage feeling: the barstools imported from Europe, the simple blackened steel table bases from a Midwestern manufacturer.
The owner had envisioned a 19-foot banquette that would span the length of the room, and a matching corner seat. The challenge was to create something comfortable but small enough for the narrow space, a design that would balance the bar on the opposite wall, but wouldn’t overwhelm the room. We were inspired by the landscape of the Hamptons: the white, beige and gray of the beaches, and the greens of the dune grass, the tall hedges, the conifers. The interior needed that stroke of green, and leather seemed a logical choice in a space that was built with such beautiful and durable materials.
Our final task was to help find the perfect stone for the bar, and to oversee the bar’s design and fabrication. The marble we chose with our client is like a slice of the Atlantic, and somehow the palette of the entire space can be found in that stone: there is gray in it, and a touch of green, and something of the sandy shore not far away.
The happy conclusion to this fruitful collaboration is that Carissa’s has become not only a culinary hotspot, founded on the eponymous baker’s extraordinary breads and patisserie, but also an aesthetic refuge. It is a place where people are happy to be, which is our ultimate goal when we design an interior: to provide a sense of the home you have been looking for, a home that has been there waiting for you all along.
(Photos courtesy of Amee Allsop, Jayne Michaels, Eric Petschek, Claudia di Maio, Wilson Green. Many thanks for your thoughtful documentation.)
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