Sarah Carpenter of Carpenter + Mason on Her Latest Design, The Deco

Hear from the designer behind The Deco, the newest food court in the Garment District of Manhattan.

By GR Chair

Sarah Carpenter, Designer of The Deco Food Court.

With so much of the interior design world focused on styles such as industrial or California-cool, Art Deco is not often picked for restaurant design much less a food court. Which is why we’re honored and thrilled that the ultra-cool hospitality design firm Carpenter + Mason included our chairs on a very special project called The Deco.

The Deco—you may have guessed—is an Art Deco-inspired food court located in the Garment District of Manhattan. Regardless of our chairs, it’s everything we love about New York Art Deco design mixed with thoughtful details that feel fresh. From a layout inspired by a French garden to that show-stopping blue bar, we caught up with with lead interior designer of The Deco, Sarah Carpenter of Carpenter + Mason, to learn more about this dazzling space.

GRCC: So why and how Art Deco for a food hall?

Sarah Carpenter: When our Client took possession of the space, located in the McGraw Building, it was a series of 5 small, narrow retail stores that we combined into one 7,000 square foot canvas. Built in 1906 as the home of the McGraw publishing company, our site was the first reinforced concrete concrete office building built in New York City.  Once the spaces were combined, it was evident that the defining architectural element of the space was it's prominent column grid, which we decided to fully embrace.

GRCC: Were there specific NYC landmarks or historical buildings that you brought into The Deco?

Sarah Carpenter: In terms of Art Deco references, there’s a lot to draw from in the immediate context within the Garment District.  We were particularly impacted by the facade of the Fashion Tower at 499 7th Ave, which is just down the street from the Deco and features an incredibly beautiful colored glass entrance. You can definitely spot hints of this influence in our bar design.

GRCC: Not a question, just a statement. We love the luxe-looking materials used in this space!

Sarah Carpenter: The layout is actually the most formal aspect of the design! On paper the plan looks like a French formal garden. The materials feel luxurious, but are actually pretty simple.  For example, the bar is composed of only three materials: blue back painted glass, brass and blue stone. The luxurious-ness is really created through scale.

GRCC: How would you describe your approach to materials in busy spaces like a food hall?

Sarah Carpenter: Working on commercial spaces—especially heavily trafficked spaces like food halls—we are constantly aware of how durable materials need to be in order to survive. The beauty of brass, which we use quite a bit of throughout the space, is that it just becomes more beautiful with time and use.

GRCC: How do you make Art Deco feel fresh like you did in the Deco?

Throughout the design process, we were never interested in simply replicating components of Art Deco. We kept focusing on the geometry of Art Deco, without the fussy stuff.

GRCC: Last question: what is your favorite part of The Deco design?

The bar, hands down! It anchors the space (as a proper bar should) and really visually hits you in the face when you enter the Deco. It's big, blue, reflective and impossible to miss