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Dining Room Decor: L2O

By Jacy Wojcik in Food on Feb 5, 2009 9:20PM

We continue our look at Chef Laurent Gras' L20 this week with a look at the aesthetics of its dining room. Like the food, Chef Gras was consumed with putting careful thought into every element of the space, from the walls to the water glasses to the guéridons. Elegant, warm, and clean, Chef Gras worked closely with Chicago-based Dirk Denison Architects to create a simple, inviting space using natural materials and warm hues. (Note, there are additional, beautiful photos of L20 on the Dirk Denison Architects website.)

As we entered and passed the corridor of large wood columns, the first thing that caught our eye was: The Plant. A large Manzanita branch, spray painted gold by Bukiety with tiny orchids carefully placed throughout, sat inside a glass case illuminated by tiny ceiling lights. Breathtaking. And as we expected, all the flowers are real and each one has a little glass vial of water attached to the stem.

We were lucky enough to be seated against the wall facing the entire restaurant, taking in the beauty. We love being in a restaurant knowing that everything is placed a certain way for a reason. L20's blog takes readers through the earliest plans to the present, highlighting decision making for much of the design process.

One post discusses the walls. Made from Japanese Sen wood, they were chosen because Gras and Denison enjoyed the “natural finish, to better see the grains of the wood and keep the feeling light.” Chef Gras also discusses the importance that the chairs be both elegant and comfortable (especially for those diners in for the duration of 12 courses). The chairs of choice: off-white leather B-Sit chairs from Hayworth. The leather is “Dream Cow” from Edelman Leather.

To break up the somewhat spacious room, the designers stayed away from claustrophobic walls and instead used materials like large etched glass panels to separate the main dining room and the lounge, and long metal cables that hang from the ceiling to the floor creating a wall-like element without closing off the restaurant.

In front of us, to our delight, were no table cloths in sight, showing off the custom Italian tables made from Makassar ebony wood. For hygiene purposes as well as general table aesthetics, silverware and chopsticks rest on small onyx blocks. Our favorite part were the water glasses. Okay, the wine glasses and champagne glasses are also beautiful but they’re not blue, so, sorry. Reidel partnered with L20 to give them their Happy-O blue water glasses that bing a little color and a lot of love to the table. No, can’t get them. Unless you also want to get them in pink, yellow, and green. The lights on the ceiling are carefully placed above every table creating little spot lights for your food and we noticed that the ceiling catches the lights from the illuminated water and wine glasses on tables creating a sea of dancing reflections on the ceiling throughout the restaurant.

Call us cliché, call us George Castanza, call us what you will- we are a sucker for amazing bathrooms. Thanks, L20, for providing an aquarium filled with sea plants and dreams of when Chicago was 80 degrees.

L20, for us, was a mix of clean industrial, natural woodland and aquatic serenity. We enjoyed experiencing a restaurant that pays serious attention to details and elements of design but also a restaurant that provides us with insights on how the decor was chosen and glimpses into how such an aesthetically pleasing space came to be.