February 24, 2017
Q&A with Jeremy Levitt and Andrew Cohen of Parts and Labor Design
Parts and Labor Design specializes in creating highly unique and customized hospitality, commercial, and retail spaces as well as furniture and decorative lighting.
by New York Spaces
NYS: Tell us about Parts and Labor Design. What do you specialize in?
Jeremy Levitt and Andrew Cohen of Parts and Labor Design: We specialize in designing highly unique and customized hospitality, commercial and retail spaces. We also create custom furniture and decorative lighting fixtures that we incorporate into nearly all of our projects.
NYS: What would you say is a specialty of your company that sets you apart from others in the industry?
Parts and Labor Design: Aside from the level of customization and craft-oriented details that go into our projects to make them tailored to each client, we find that our abilities as an integrated design firm gives us a bit of an edge. Essentially, our focus lies equally between design aesthetic and function so that every project we design operates seamlessly.
NYS: You design for hospitality, restaurants, and retail spaces yet chefs in particular seem to gravitate towards your firm. Why?
Parts and Labor Design: Part of the reason is because we pay close attention to both aesthetic and function—we thoroughly understand how important it is to have a smooth operation. Furthermore, much of what excites us as designers is when chefs and operators have, or want to attempt, their own unique way of service. We love to understand how this ties the back of house to the front of house and, ultimately, to the customer's table.
NYS: Why do you think the design should reflect a chef's menu or cooking philosophy?
Parts and Labor Design: Generally, we like to avoid a disconnect whenever possible; whether it is how the design might correlate with the existing architecture, or how it represents the city or location of the venue and more specifically, how it relates to the culinary concept. That said, our designs are generally an interpretation of the chef, operator or owner's vision. It gives our projects a soul that doesn't come from a contrived narrative.
NYS: What is one of your favorite restaurant designs to date, and why?
Parts and Labor Design: The Marsh House, which very recently opened within the Thompson Hotel in Nashville (which we also designed). Aside from the relationships we developed with John Besh's group, and of course the Thompson Staff, it was a welcome challenge to maintain a bit of the hotel's modern aesthetic while making some significant changes to the color palette, mood and social interaction of the restaurant. From the lobby, the Marsh House has a grand entry that exposes a custom laid geometric concrete flooring, high gloss green ceilings and vintage marsh inspired wallcoverings, all set between tile and tambour dueling bars, luxurious drapery and some of the coolest bespoke furniture and lighting we've worked on. We love the idea of making gradual transitions to create multiple experiences and environments and the Marsh House design is just that, working in conjunction with the design of the surrounding hotel.
Parts and Labor Design: Both are fantastic examples of ways we have interpreted the chef's visions as an anchor to the concept. Atera was very much about Chef Matt Lightner's philosophy in creating beautiful and calculated dishes. He combined very organic ingredients with an architectural approach to his plated compositions. In turn, we developed symbiotic relationships between materials and forms that effectively combined organic elements, such as hand turned ceramic shades, with metal framework that created structure for each piece. Eventually even the plates and bowls were crafted by the ceramicist that did much of our decorative lighting shades.
At Superica, the vision was based around the phrase "high end, low tech", in that we were tasked to create a space that utilized patterns, textures and rough materials in modern configurations. Dubbed a "Mex-Tex" space, we celebrated the urban artist with a bit of a Latin backdrop.
NYS: We love the fact that you create custom furniture pieces for your hospitality projects. Why did you decide to take this on and how does it complicate or ease the design aspect?
Parts and Labor Design: For starters, we have a history in industrial design focusing on furniture and lighting. So our expertise lies within architecture, interiors and product design—enabling us to create a very complete final product within our spaces. Additionally, it's very important for us to go into each project attempting to reinvent the wheel to a certain extent, as we treat each new space as a new work of art that contains a signature but not a replication or any of our other work.
Furniture and lighting are the most tactile pieces in a room, and they enable us to celebrate the most intricate details that customers experience firsthand. And with that, it enables us to expand our breadth of work and design. It does tend to be laborious, as we have to design and document all of these new creations. But it's a labor of love, without question. Especially when we get to see the final pieces in action.
NYS: What are you working on now?
Parts and Labor Design: We have several projects in progress and many new ones in the cooker. We're currently working in Nashville, Los Angeles, Chicago, Charleston, Savannah, Hong Kong, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Massachussets, DC, etc and of course we have a handful of projects in New York. Within those areas we have some really dynamic hotel public spaces, several restaurants, we're working on a very interesting private club concept, we're essentially at completion on a high end shared working space, among many others. We are also buying into some of these projects on an equity basis, which is creating a great new angle for us.
And lastly, we're in progress creating a product line of our own based on decorative lighting and some furniture...and likely products beyond that. Lots of exciting things are happening.
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