Design and concept firm AvroKO, has created some of our favorite New York spaces. Saxon and Parole, Madam Geneva, The Hurricane Club, Beauty and Essex, The Daily…the list goes on. People forget the empires behind their favorite restaurant interiors; to us, Avroko is it’s own kind of empire. Bringing customers an incredible atmosphere is just as important as bringing them incredible food, which is why we interviewed the four owners to get a deeper look into the AvroKO aesthetic…
Can you tell us a little bit about how AvroKO came to fruition? How do your four styles play into each other when creating a restaurant, hotel or retail space? What is that process like?
Kristina O’Neal: We have known each other since our late teens, so its been a long journey together, both inside the firm and out.
Two of us came out of the arts and two of us began as traditional architects, which creates an interesting cross-connection between the “idea” and the “form” when we work together as a group; its likely what balances many of the projects as well.
From the arts side, we have been concerned with creating a strong story for our spaces, with both layers of real, often historical reference, and maybe our own brand of myth too. From the architecture side, utility, function and flow take precedence. The balancing of the two camps continue to keep the firm honest. It’s hard to get too far out of line when you have three partners as healthy critics.
How important is travel for inspiration?
Adam Farmerie: Our travels tend to fuel our work in so many ways: they provide us time to think outside of the studio. They offer the opportunity to be inspired and surprised. Sure, we often find cool stuff while traveling to get into our projects – so that side of it is useful – but it’s often the less tangible parts of it that become so tangible in our work. I think at the moment the four of us are in four different cities, in three different countries. It’s a progressive way for us to keep moving forward and expanding our design.
How do your travels come to be incorporated into your spaces? Do you find pieces abroad that you incorporate?
William Harris: Certainly we do find unique objects and materials abroad that we incorporate into our spaces globally, but it is oftentimes the spirit and essence of a place or culture that tends to be the most inspiring, and then that sensibility ultimately finds its way into our projects. We are especially interested in and inspired by the energy and ingenuity of the streets, especially objects and systems that are not consciously “designed” but rather purely functional, surprising or serving a unique purpose while solving a utilitarian problem. It may be the way old plastic bottles are inverted, cut open and strung up to serve as flower vases lining the back alleyways of Bangkok’s Chinatown, or an ingenious way of hanging a series of butcher knifes at a corner meat shop in Hong Kong that really gets our minds whirling. The resulting outcome might be a design that is quite luxurious and re-configured to suit our needs, but the spirit and essence remains intact, and for us that’s quite exciting.
You recently opened an office in Bangkok. Was there a particular reason you chose that locale?
William Harris: Bangkok is an incredibly vibrant city with a great sense of soul that we thrive on. It also happens to be very centrally located in South East Asia in relation to all of the other countries we are currently working in (not to mention all of the projects we have in Bangkok). So it’s just a few hour flight to just about anywhere for us. Northern Thailand is also a treasure land of amazing wood and ceramic work that we utilize often. On top of that, they have some of the best street food in the world and we were sold.