In Chicago, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Ave.

General / People / Places / April 17, 2014

Fresh from designing the spectacular Wright restaurant in New York’s Guggenheim Museum, architect Andre Kikoski  has now conquered Chicago.

His design for Sophie’s, up on the seventh floor of Saks Fifth Avenue on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, is now open to the public.

Open is the operative word here.

“Other dining rooms are cloistered away behind walls, but here it’s integrated on the sales floor – the kitchen is right there,” Kikoski says. “You could reach out from a bar stool and pick up a pair of denim jeans.”

That’s because the seventh floor is reserved for the Fifth Avenue Man – and jam-packed with of men’s’ sportswear and designer collections.

Sophie’s takes its inspiration from Sophie Gimbel, the iconic fashion designer and arbiter of taste and style at Saks for 40 years. She dressed a number of first ladies, spent time in Havana, and liked a good cigar. Moreover, she was the first woman to grace the cover of TIME magazine.

“Her clothing was very modern and symmetrical – like George Jetson’s wife’s, cantilevered with aluminum ribs sewn in, plus embroidery and beads,” he says. “Her clothes were on par with her life, and her sensibility was something we worked with in planning an identity for this restaurant.”

That translates into sumptuous materials like walnut millwork with polished metal inlays, bar tops with custom glass, three dimensional tiles in private dining rooms, and custom furnishings.

“We wanted quiet luxury and enduring style that’s the Saks calling card and mantra,” he says.

So he’s paid homage to the designer’s sensibility and reputation for luxury — with subtle touches, rich patterns and nuanced textures, all within a retail environment.

“We never get just a restaurant – we always get something with layers of challenges,” he says.

And here, he’s met them all – on his own terms.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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