The architecture and spaces of Pio Pio Restaurant, located in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, are interwoven with mystery, discovery, and contradiction. As one transfers from the streets of Manhattan into the box of reclaimed wood at the entrance, there is an immediate and restricted environmental transformation. The views are controlled and limited to keep a focus on each individual space, which allow for distinct moments of arrival and departure as one moves through the different parts of the restaurant.
Conceptually, the focus was to transport the visitor into a magical architectural experience that references an intangible influence of Latin culture. With this approach, the design was detached from the ideas of traditional interior design, instead, a series of architectural installations define the atmosphere and path of travel.
Two boxes of reclaimed wood spill out from the interior to the exterior and great the visitor at the entrance, creating the initial moments of transition. However, these boxes offer only a glimpse of what exists beyond. As the visitor meanders through the space, they discover detailed moments of contradiction: an exquisite marble host table floating within a rustic wooden box, a jewel-like vestibule of glowing brass inside another wooden box, a 40 foot monolithic marble bar resting on a distressed concrete floor. Upon the final arrival, the visitor digressing down a subtle flight of stairs and into a large box made of woven Ocotillo canes, housing a series of concrete formations that simultaneously separate and integrate the main dining hall with the various restaurant services.