My experiences in living in different cultures, languages, cooking practices, and exposure to art, have influenced me in everything I do today. I get excited to design a new restaurant space, and create an atmosphere where people can come together, and, on either a conscious or subconscious level, experience a cultural and hopefully an emotional shift. The design, the music, the food, the wait staff; the atmosphere, and every nuance, contributes to the way I want my guests to feel when they leave.
This philosophy was what my partner, Andy Pforzheimer, and I envisioned back in 1994. It was at that time that we met a brilliant architect who was developing a building in historic South Norwalk, Connecticut; which was the perfect location for the tapas restaurant I had dreamed of since my early days in Spain. Andy was an accomplished chef, and developed our menu, while I shaped and designed the physical space and ambience. Two years later, the first Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar opened its doors. Today the excitement and energy that defines all Barcelona restaurants are an amalgamation of my, and Andy’s individual and collective visions. Our dream of creating a warm, welcoming gathering place, with great wines and small plates, that offer a multitude of different flavors, and can be eaten as easily at the bar as at a table, was realized.
ON HOME DESIGN
Philosophically, I believe that design has to be a product of the way one functions, and not something that one has to fit themselves into. Comfort is relative to the individual, and isn’t about small or big, it’s more specific to how and where you find your comfort. I am always ultra-aware of angles, and how light hits walls or fabric, or objects. There is a kind of feng-shui about light; it has to resonate with the space in order to feel that the energy in the room resonates with the overall function of the room.
I find the inspiration to begin a new design from the simplest things to the more ornate and complex. I was lucky to grow up seeing some of the most amazing architecture in some of the oldest cities in the world: Rio, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Lisbon, Argentina, and Belgium. I also appreciate and am influences by the more modern cities of Los Angeles, and in the raw nature of Montauk. Inspiration is everywhere.
Although I was exposed to design throughout my life, it wasn’t until my mid-thirties that a sort of rhythm came to me, in a way that I wanted to actually begin to design living or restaurant spaces and furniture.
By looking at some of the great designers I learned how important it is to keep larger spaces and smaller spaces in balance. I believe that more is less, and I am always trying to bring the outside in; bonding with nature and keeping things feeling organic. I’d say, if I had to define my style, I’d call it mid-century to modern industrial or coastal living. Most importantly, my goal is to design spaces that are inviting and comfortable; places you just don’t want to leave. I love to entertain for that reason.
I am interested in being in, and capturing emotion in the moment, in a more journalistic style of photography than manufactured. Let life be life, and capture it in its moment of being. For me, the photograph that I can look at, at length, and keep seeing deeper into it, and feeling it is somehow a part of me, is the photograph that is pure emotion. It may be as simple as a ray of light hitting a table in just a certain way at a certain time of day, or maybe it’s as unassuming as a simple smile a the end of dinner that evokes the emotional effect of an entire evening. On a canvas, emotion is often captured through the use of light and shadow. In the same way, human behavior can be caught in the moment, in photograph, if light is cast on the subject in a certain way.