December 17, 2011
LIGHT & FOOD: PICCINO IN SAN FRANCISCO
COULD YOU START WITH A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RESTAURANT AND HOW YOU CAME TO THIS NEW SPACE?
My wife, Margherita is from Lucca, Italy, and had opened Piccino 6 years ago in a very small (600 sq. ft.) location at the other end of the sidewalk. The neighborhood was changing and lacked any great food, coffee, wine, etc. so, the small place was an instant success. With lease going up for renewal, and a very challenging landlord, Margherita and her partner Sher Rogat were receptive to a change. And I had time to take on a smaller project as there was not a lot of design and development work 2 years ago.
One of their regular customers was a wonderful Italian woman whose family was from Lucca, and she and her cousin owned a beautiful old yellow building at the other end of the sidewalk - and there the story begins.. (and by the way, Margherita's brother is her new landlord's family doctor in Lucca!)
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS IN THE DESIGN OF THE RESTAURANT?
To keep the personal warm comfortable neighborhood feeling from the former location, be respectful of what the building is, while at the same time creating a light, open, modern feeling.
HOW DID YOU ENSURE THAT THE BRAND OF PICCINO STAY INTACT WITHIN A NEW, UPDATED SPACE?
Using warm natural materials, such as recycled cypress for the tables and countertops, and black oak for the floors and soffits. There was no pretense in the old cafe, and the same goes for the new one. It is what it is, but with thought.
HOW DO YOU CARRY THROUGH THIS MESSAGE FROM FOOD TO DESIGN, TO FURNITURE AND LIGHTING?
The food is elemental and consistent with our design aesthetic - Margherita and Sher, and our chef Rachel Silcocks make food which is clean, clear, and do as little as possible to fresh ingredients. The vegetable, fish, and meats are all vibrant. My partner at my architectural firm, Sagan Piechota, Daniel Piechota and I took the same approach with the materials and space - do as little as possible and let the space shine.
HOW DOES THIS DESIGN RELATE TO THE MENU?
The menu is not huge and it changes weekly depending on what the farmers bring us. It is intentionally kept uncluttered with a balance of a few special items in each category. We also kept it simple in design, but strived to do simple well. Knowing where to stop and draw the line is an art: Whether in architecture, interior design, or food.
WHAT ROLE DOES LIGHTING PLAY IN ALL THIS?
Because a restaurant is active at night, lighting is an integral aspect of the experience, both in terms of being able to see, and feel the environment! The space itself is a three dimensional palette to be appreciated. Being somewhat asymmetric, the FLOS Glo-Balls do this beautifully. My partner Daniel chose them.
WHAT INFORMED YOUR CHOICE TO USE FLOS' GLO-BALLS IN THE END?
They are simple and beautiful!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEAT IN THE RESTAURANT?
I enjoy the far corners looking back at the entry, as well as the counters and communal tables. All of them have their contribution to the experience.
THE FOOD ON THE WEBSITE LOOKS DELICIOUS, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ITEM ON THE MENU?
Salads are extraordinary! Pastas too!