July 31, 2017

Inside Made Nice with Stonehill & Taylor's Sara Duffy

Stonehill & Taylor's journey with the creators behind 11 Madison Park began long before Made Nice—the duo's new fast-casual eatery in the Flatiron District.

by Sara Duffy

Made Nice; Evan Sung
Made Nice; Mural by Sheperd Fairey; Photograph by Evan Sung.

Sara Duffy, senior interiors associate with New York-based architecture and interior design firm Stonehill & Taylor, was a key team member in the design of the new fast-casual restaurant Made Nice in Manhattan's NoMad neighborhood. Here, she shares her history with the famed pair behind Made Nice—Will Guidara and Daniel Humm, the duo also responsible for Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad.

Made Nice; Evan Sung
Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.

Stonehill & Taylor's journey with Will Guidara and Daniel Humm began long before Made Nice—the duo's new fast-casual eatery—came into being. In 2012, Stonehill & Taylor was hired as the architect for The NoMad Hotel, and I was brought onboard to work alongside Interior Decorator Jacques Garcia to help realize his design concepts.

Not long after the opening of The NoMad Hotel, ownership decided to build a new restaurant in conjunction with the NoMad restaurant—which Will and Daniel oversee through their company, Make It Nice. The goal was to create a new, larger space for hotel guests and locals alike, dubbed The NoMad Bar. During this two-year process, I often found myself running over to the hotel to assist with design updates (fortunately, the Stonehill & Taylor office is across the street), and my interactions with Will and Daniel became a common and good-natured affair.

Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.
Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.

After this first project's immeasurable success, our team was thrilled to work with Will and Daniel on their new concept, Made Nice. The restaurant stemmed from a desire to take the incredible food and service that Make It Nice had become known for, particularly at Eleven Madison Park—recently named the Best Restaurant in the World—and make it accessible to all.

We created an open, transparent layout so all areas of the restaurant are visible upon entry. The guest can walk through the door, go directly to the counter and order their food, all while observing the plating and finishing of dishes in the kitchen space, then seat themselves in the dining area that follows the length of the restaurant.

Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.
Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.

Mirroring the ethos of Made Nice's cuisine, the interior of the restaurant incorporates raw and locally-sourced materials: We used concrete for the floors and paired those with American walnut millwork and black granite countertops. This neutral palette juxtaposes beautifully with the bright, custom-accent mural designed by acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey. The mural by Fairey runs the entire length of the restaurant and features bold, colorful patterns layered with text and graphics relating to the Made Nice concept and the surrounding Flatiron area.

Made Nice, Stonehill & Taylor
Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.

However, the restaurant's most intimate piece is the depiction of jazz musician Jon Batiste that hangs on the back wall of the kitchen. Will and Daniel are close to Batiste and have been significantly influenced by his ideas of "social music," the notion of creating community through music by making it accessible to more people without losing the technical complexities that make it great. The duo wanted to celebrate his importance to the Made Nice concept, so we commissioned Benjamin Norman to bring their vision to life. The work is based on a photograph of Batiste with Will and Daniel at a music parade down Broadway, which started at the Nomad Hotel. If you look closely, you can actually see Will and Daniel among the group of people in the image!

The pair's unique appreciation for the people they've interacted with throughout their lives and careers make partnering with them on a project like this so memorable and positive.

Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.
Made Nice; Photograph by Evan Sung.

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