Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Beers, Resto-Architect
Jeffrey Beers, the creative mind behind Bostonian restaurant tour de force Bond, on his many passions, pacing department stores, and the differences between New York and Dubai.
How would you describe yourself? I’m a passionate and intense artist. I’m an architect by training, but I’m also a glassblower. My interest is in the arts and painting in general. When I was in architecture school at RISD, I met Dale Chihuly, the glass blower. I became a glass blower under him as I was studying architecture. I had exposure to the world of glass art and all sorts of very talented artisans which made a huge difference in my perceptions as an architect. Glass blowing is all about form and balance — being able to balance volumes and explore forms from a strict architectural sense to a fluid sense. So glass blowing allowed me to really explore form and color and things that were impossible to study on paper. The only way to physically draw these things was on paper. It taught me so much.
What are some places you like going to eat and hang out? Well, I enjoy all food. I go everywhere. I go from the Four Seasons to Pastis. I would also like to go to Above Allen. In Monte Carlo, Jimmy’z is one of my favorite clubs in the world. I like the energy and the way the club is designed. It’s extremely stimulating. It’s a fantastic nightclub, very theatrical.
What are some of your favorite spaces you’ve designed yourself? Well, I would probably have to say the Cove. The Cove Hotel at the Atlantis in Nassau in Paradise Island. It’s a hotel project as well as an indoor/outdoor project.
How did you design it? With a bit of Southeastern, South Asian feel. There’s lots of teakwood and French limestone. It’s a very interesting melding of nature and architecture. There are water elements and floral with lots of natural elements that weave in and out of the property. The Fontainebleau in Miami Beach is also one of my favorites. We just opened that last year. It was amazing to be able to work on a project by architect Morris Lapidus.
As an architect, how is your experience different when you’re designing for different countries? It certainly makes a difference because cultures are different. When I design a restaurant or club, I have to very mindful of who the guest is going to be. The guests in New York are very different from the guests in Bombay. I have to pay quite a bit of attention to what part of the world I’m in. I recently opened a very big nightclub in Dubai. There are things I did in Dubai which I wouldn’t do in New York.
For example? Half the club in Dubai is outdoors. There are more private and VIP areas in Dubai than in a club in New York.
Tell me about Bond. How was working on that? Bond turned out beautifully. It’s a grand space. The ceilings are 25 feet high. The room was a very prestigious bank in Boston. I came in with a lot of modern wood work techniques and metal. We brought a certain glamor to it. People want to dress up a bit and primp before you come to Bond. I’m also very happy with the lighting. Everyone looks like they’re a movie star. It’s a major hit in Boston. They’re off the charts. They’ve got 150 people waiting outside every night.
Who do you admire in your industry? I’ve always been a big fan of Ian Schrager. Ian has done really well, starting with Studio 54, back in the seventies, and through the nineties with the Morgan’s hotel properties, the Mandarin, the Delano. I think Ian Schrager’s just been a remarkable person in the hotel business. I think that the owner of the Four Season’s, Izzy Sharp, is another one. He’s just a remarkable leader in the hospitality industry. Keith McNally has done remarkable things with Pastis and Balthazar and Café Luxembourg and The Odeon.
What is something people might not know about you? Probably that I’m a space cadet and I wander Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s for ideas.
Do you get lots of ideas that way? I do … it’s sort of more of a distraction. I wander crowded places like Grand Central Station. It somehow removes me from the present and lets my mind completely wander. I need chaos in order to think.
Any projects in the works right now? We’re busy with the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas. It’s going to open the end of December this year. Then there is this big night club in Morocco called Sanctuary.