Eleven Madison Park is still going real hard on symbolism in its renovation. The premier fine dining restaurant whose mission is to “make it nice” has been reopen following its snazzy redesign for just over a week, and the earnestness over the changes keeps reaching new and higher levels.
Now that the big reveal has happened, chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara have been sharing smaller details about the new space, giving everyone a peek inside the process. It’s all pretty heady and positively dripping money, and practically everything has some sort of double meaning with the fact that it’s a big change for these guys. These are the most earnest and over-the-top pieces of the new EMP:
Don’t Be All, Like, Uncool
Humm and Guidara idolize late jazz performer Miles Davis, and there’s now a sign with 11 touchstone words inspired by Davis hanging in the kitchen, from collaborative to spontaneous, and of course “endless reinvention,” an ongoing theme for the EMP crew. But first on the list, at all times, staff is reminded to just be cool.
Chalkboard painting by Rita Ackermann one of the best painters alive but even more one of my favorite people in the whole world. A chalkboard is an incredible platform for learning, creating, erasing and new beginnings. If you think about how much knowledge over years accumulate on a classrooms chalkboard it's pretty inspiring. Rita redrew the painting we previously had in the restaurant of the park in her own way on a chalkboard and the started to erasing and abstracting it with the idea of a fresh start as were we are @elevenmadisonpark #makeitnice #ritaackermann
That painting might not look like a symbol for change, but the idea of new beginnings is embedded here, too. Humm can explain this one best: “A chalkboard is an incredible platform for learning, creating, erasing and new beginnings. If you think about how much knowledge over years accumulate on a classrooms chalkboard it’s pretty inspiring. Rita redrew the painting we previously had in the restaurant of the park in her own way on a chalkboard and the started to erasing and abstracting it with the idea of a fresh start as were we are @elevenmadisonpark #makeitnice”.
One Is Silver and the Other Gold
The last 11 years cooking @elevenmadisonpark has been incredible. There is no place I've ever spent more time at then in this kitchen. I've grown so much professionally and as a person. I've found myself as a chef and found my cuisine. I love our new kitchen but it was emotional to break down the old. It was important to me that with the new somehow we remember the old. In collaboration with one of my favorite artists in the world #danielturner we created this step. It's the steel from all the old kitchen equipment melted into this beautiful form. When you're entering the new Eleven Madison Park you're crossing over history... you're stepping over the old kitchen to be in the new restaurant. #makeitnice
Honoring the old space was clearly important to the team: EMP paid an undisclosed amount of money to have its former steel kitchen equipment melted down and turned into a single step — by celebrated artist Daniel Turner, no less. Again, Humm explains the symbolism here: “When you're entering the new Eleven Madison Park you're crossing over history... you're stepping over the old kitchen to be in the new restaurant.”
Eleven/Eleven by @olympiascarry is the artwork above our restaurant's entrance. It's a work of 22 stained and painted windows. It's inspired by the stained windows of the old restaurant which were facing east to west, the idea of the artist was to change the direction of those windows as we're changing direction with the restaurant. Olympia worked in collaboration with one of the greatest glassmaker #ursrickenbach in Zurich who has worked with likes as #sigmarpolke The windows now are facing south to north. It's incredible how the work changes depending on the time of the day and weather. #makeitnice
This one’s a little more far-reaching, but Humm and Guidara commissioned another artist to tackle the concept of change. Olympia Scarry made the stained glass windows that hang above the entrance, and they face south to north. Previously, the restaurant’s stained glass windows had faced east to west — the change in direction is supposed to signify the restaurant’s similar direction change. (Though, to be clear, nothing has changed about the concept of the restaurant. It is just wearing new clothes.)
Bringing the Outside Inside
Just outside @elevenmadisonpark in the park, is the Sol LeWitt lawn, named for one of the most important American artists who made Madison Square Park Art’s earliest public artworks in 2005. Our goal was always to bring the park as much into our restaurant as possible. This is all around wall drawing is in our new private dinning room #makeitnice #sollewitt
Madison Square Park, where the restaurant is located, is a big source of comfort for Humm, who considers it a constant in his currently evolving new world. With that in mind, he and Guidara had a Sol LeWitt drawing used as wallpaper in one of the private dining rooms. LeWitt is an American artist who made two of the park’s earliest public artworks in 2005, inspiring a lawn to be named for him. By bringing pieces of the park inside — also look to the four leaves logo — the idea here is that Humm and Guidara are showing their sense of place and adding some stability to the new space.