5 Iconic Restaurant Designs by Adam Tihany
The Wine Tower at Aureole; Las Vegas
Before the breathtaking wine tower came to be, Aureole Las Vegas was destined to feature a staircase lined with swans. Tihany had just one night to change everyone's mind. "At about 2:30 a.m., I turned on the TV and lo and behold Mission: Impossible was on, with Tom Cruise wearing a harness and suspended from the ceiling in this beautiful white room. And I thought, That's it. We're going to design a New York skyscraper in the middle of the space, which represents Charlie Palmer, a tall, powerful, New York chef. In it, we're going to put the wines and have this system where the wine stewardesses can fly up and down and get the bottles, which will add a dash of Las Vegas."
The Gold Bullion Wall at Mandarin Oriental; Las Vegas
"The first thing you see when you get out of the elevator at the Mandarin is what we call the money shot: It's all about gold," Tihany says. "The desire was to create something that was very tactile and strong and original. It punches you in the stomach. It's a symbol of power. It's very pure in a way, and in your face. You can't say no."
The Pool at the Westin Chosun; Seoul
"The Westin Chosun is the oldest of the upscale hotels in Seoul. It was one of the first really high-end business hotels, and as such it was a bit old-fashioned," Tihany says. "We were hoping that the renovation would position it in a more contemporary Seoul. The pool is graphically the most spectacular and it is quite sexy."
The Bar at Le Cirque 2000; New York
When Sirio Maccioni decided to open Le Cirque 2000 in the Villard Houses, it created a challenge for Tihany. The space had a landmarked 18th-century interior, which meant nothing could be touched or tampered with. "I told Sirio, what the Italians would do is restore the place perfectly, put in great lighting and park a Ferrari in the middle. He said, 'Do it.'" Everything in the restaurant is impermanent, from an interior tent that honors le cirque ("the circus") to the bar. "By doing so we actually created a true circus. It comes to town, pitches its tent, doesn't touch anything—it's its own little animal."
The Venetian Mural at Remi; New York
Tihany equates his restaurant designs to portraits of his clients. However, Remi is Tihany's own restaurant. "The most difficult thing in the world is to paint your own portrait. Van Gogh did a good job, but I'm no van Gogh." Tihany hired a French artist, Paulin Pâris, to paint the massive, 120-foot painting for his New York restaurant, depicting "fun Venice, not real Venice."