When Robert Willis opened his new restaurant, Vaux, he wanted the space to incorporate his own interests while serving up a pleasant atmosphere for dining. Fortunately, his brother-in-law is Justin Kelly, owner and principal designer of KellyArc Company in New York City, a firm that specializes in architectural table lamps, wall sconces, floor lamps, window treatments, fixed room dividers and rolling screens created from vintage slides.
"Robert was trained as an architect and photographer first before graduating from culinary school," Kelly states. "The restaurant is a place where all of his interests converge."
"Kelly's specialty is crafting lighting designs, room dividers, and screens using turn-of-the-century photography (his collection includes 20,000 images) embedded in stained glass panels and framed in bronze, aluminum, or steel. Client's personal photographs can also be used for custom projects.
The sconces designed for his sister Tara and brother-in-law's new restaurant were custom-designed with vintage slides (circe 1890-1930) depicting botanical studies. "Tara and Robert were very involved in choosing each image; we worked together, " Kelly states. The botanical theme reflected in the lighting design is intrinsic to the restaurant - and the Park Slope area - itself. "The restaurant is named after Calvert Vaux, who was the designer of New York's Prospect Park and a co-designer of Central Park. The fact that Robert was a photographer and architect made the sconces' focus and construction all the more poignant
"The role that the sconces play in the restaurant is important; it gives an earthy underpinning to the room and grounds the space," Kelly explains. "These sconces act as a counterpoint to the elegance of the goldleafed wallpaper and red bannquets."
The frames for the 13 sconces are also original to the project. Kelly specified amber textured water glass in a triangular shape that projects the sconces out from the wall. "The triangular piece acts as a hinge. It porvides gesture,tipping the sconces deliberately down to the diners below," Kelly says. The extruded aluminum frames were then powdercoated in a Mist Gray finish.
Although a well-prepared menu always attracts a crowd, inside this eating establishment the lighting has also gotten a fair amount of attention.
"A lot of customers have ordered custom sconces for their own homes after admiring the sconces in Vaux," Kelly notes.
Custom work is always welcome at KellyArc Company. Hotel and restaurant designers appreciate the flexibility provided by a selection of 20,000+ classic slides.
"For example, a restaurant in Savannah might want images that pertain specifically to that area of the country, or a hotel might request cityscapes from the time period of wehn the hotel was constructed," Kelly comments. In addition, a choice of 300 finishes and textures underscores the uniqueness of each design.