A historic New York address comes back to life: the former Club 82 has been transformed into a restaurant with cabaret, designed by Annabel Karim Kassar in the name of opulent maximalism

In New York City, the new French restaurant Ella Funt bears the name of one of the most popular performers of the famous Club 82 in the East Village, a tribute to the history of the cult venue with many jokes also taken up in the new interior project by Annabel Karim Kassar.

The address is the same, the vocation for entertainment too, but the internal organization has been revised: while on the ground floor there is now the new Ella Funt restaurant, on the underground level there is a cabaret venue where you can enjoy healthy entertainment after dinner.

As for the restaurant, the French-Lebanese architect wanted to propose a sensual atmosphere, obtained from the mix of warm colors, textures and intriguing plays of light, which well combines the elegance of French cuisine with the evocative theatrical opulence of the place.

Desire of maximalism

The project by AKK Architects for the brand new New York restaurant Ella Funt is a love letter to the maximalist approach. A gamble perhaps, certainly against the grain of the trend that currently wants restaurant venues in the Big Apple devoted to an almost brutalist essentiality. Here, on the contrary, the gaze encounters cameos at the dramatic opulence of the New York clubs of the past.

Among the references that the architect Kassar wanted to keep in mind during the design there is, in particular, the mural work of the now closed 'Palio Bar' on West 51st which she defined as "of dizzying beauty"; the Tuscan restaurant housed a neo-expressionist work by Sandro Chia, who staged the entire wall of the 'Palio di Siena', a detail remembered with nostalgia by the most aficionados.

Nostalgia effect

Each environment - from the bar to the dining room, but also the toilettes - enjoys its own special interpretation. The vintage oriental tiles on the wall act as a watershed: to each one, its own.

A strategy which, supported by the numerous mirrored surfaces, helps to increase the drama of the place. The slightly illuminated bookcase, for example, acts as a bridge between the kitchen and the dining room, giving a sensation of sparkling energy typical of 1920s clubs.

The main dining room was conceived as a French Salle a Manger, enhanced by large-scale mural work painted by New York-based artist Marcus Jahmal. In addition to this space, devoted to a more formal and enveloping atmosphere, Kassar has reserved a room for those who appreciate moments with an 'easy' flavour, where they can enjoy organic wine, cocktails and small dishes, creating a unique point of interest and a of voyeurism - as if it were a meeting place to "see and be seen".

To complete the dominant sensuality, a lighting design project that embellishes.

The open kitchen invites guests to enjoy chef Nick Koustefanou's culinary theater; the bar area, on the other hand, is designed to change its connotations: while during the day it is a comfortable place to relax, in the evening it transforms into an intimate and lively place, with exclusive and private areas.


Annabel Karim Kassar: Concept design, curator and designer-in-charge
Architecture: AKK Architects (annabelkassar.com)
Rabih Zeidan: Architect, designer and project manager
Violaine Jeantet: Interior architect
Caroline Kassar: Artistic direction for Hello Number
Anna Ogden-Smith: Visual communication, Banana Monkey
Laura Blakeman: PR & Communications, LB Agency
Seth Caplan: Photography