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Employees Only Miami

Once again, I-Beam Design had the great pleasure of collaborating with Billy Gilroy and the Employee Only Miami team to adapt and transform the distinctive prohibition era ambiance of Employees Only New York’s original West Village speakeasy to the historic Coral House at the Washington Park Hotel in South Beach.

As the third Employees Only location, the design of Employees Only Miami brings the inimitable speakeasy experience to South Beach where the distinctive Art Deco details, romantic lighting and transformative ambiance resonate beautifully with the authentic Deco architecture of the surrounding Washington Park Hotel and 1929 historic Coral House where Employees Only Miami is housed,

One enters through the porch of one of the last surviving homes built from local coral into a distinctly Miami inspired fortune teller’s lair and behind the unsuspecting red curtain into another time and place where the cocktails are divine, the service is unparalleled and the food pays tribute to an era where quality was uncompromising.

Employees Only Miami was voted amongst the Best American Cocktail Bars 2018 by Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards and the Diner’s Choice Award 2018, adding to a long list of awards for the Employees Only brand.




Macao Trading Co. Restaurant

Macao Trading Co., the much anticipated collaboration between Chanterelle's David Waltuck, the team behind Employees Only and I-Beam Design, is located in Tribeca, NY City. On the ground floor is an 82-seat dining room with a mezzanine that evokes"1940's portside warehouse/gambling parlor recalling Macao's red lantern district. The mezzanine is made of rusted steel beams and mesh railings with wood plank catwalk, filled with antiques, running along the back perimeter. The catwalk, accessible only by a ladder, suggests the presence of a pit boss that monitors the games and the guests below. 
The dim film noir shadow lighting provides an elegant and shady gambling atmosphere. Light fixtures from recycled antique bicycles, boats and rickshaws help to create the mood for the 1940's Macao.
To evoke the multicultural Chinese and Portuguese feel of Macao, the space is filled with antiques from old Portuguese tiles to Chinese firecracker packages and cricket cages. Teak lattice screens, salvaged from a 1940's Chinese amusement park in Florida, create intimacy in the center of the dining room while the Spanish metal cast iron work in the form of brackets and ventilation grills define the perimeter booths. Old sailing posters and images of seductive Chinese women of the 40's cover the hallways leading to the "Opium Lounge" below.
Upon entry to the clandestine lounge, there is a built-in shrine filled with symbols of fertility and erotica. The cellar is covered with rusted tin ceiling and teak lattice work on the walls with recessed red lighting behind. Dark tapestry covered ottomans and semi private booths along with deep red wall coverings create a sexy atmosphere devoted to pleasure.

Photos by Peter Miller


298 Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11201 

Café Boobah is a café specifically designed for children, their families and friends. 

The chairs and tables are low enough for kids of any age to feel comfortable and half of the space is devoted to a play area where every surface becomes a place to play and interact with. The Lego lounge has a view of the garden and consists of Lego boards covering the walls from floor to ceiling so children can build with or against gravity; everything a child builds becomes an integral part of the play space architecture until a new construction is made by someone else. 

There is a huge floor to ceiling abacus that also acts as a screening device, a chalkboard wall, a magnetic wall, and a wall for drawing on with crayons. The flooring is colorful and soft enough to cushion a child's fall and there are numerous built in benches and cubbies filled with toys. There are also lots of large soft colored geometric shapes with which kids can build their own environments to play in and on. 

The backyard garden has live bamboo, flowers, trees, a big sandbox and a two story play house with lots of fun features. 

Parents and caregivers are perhaps Café Boobah's most enthusiastic patrons. It is one restaurant where adults can relax with a cup of coffee or light meal while their kids are free to run around and entertain themselves as they wish. Café Boobah serves delicious organic food including many of children's favorite treats like macaroni & (no) cheese, (tofu) hotdogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 


Cafe Concept by Lena Seow and Elizabeth Pressman 

Cafe Owner: Lena Seow 

Garden Design and Construction: Lena Seow and Richard Seow 

Architecture and design by Lena Seow and Vrinda Khanna in collaboration with Suzan Wines (I-Beam Design) 

Total Construction Budget: $20,000 

Photos: Silke Mayer


The WaterBar project was developed as a playful architectural parody on the principal activities that take place in a bar including drinking, socializing, talking and making connections. The objective is to create a dynamically engaging connection between the interior and exterior space of the street and the upper and lower levels of the bar that provokes continuous interaction between people and space. 

The existing site for which this project was conceived is a small storefront on Broome Street near West Broadway in SoHo. The design makes the most of the fact that the first floor is about three feet above street level by recessing the first floor back from the façade allowing natural light and views into the restaurant space below grade. A waterfall connects the two floors and is clearly visible through the large glass facade. The bar on the main level is literally a clear glass bar filled with a river of flowing water. The glass bar-top cantilevers toward the street and over the opening to the floor below where the river exits the levitating end of the bar, becoming a waterfall that drops into a pool. People at the bar delight in the water flowing beneath their drinks, while those seated in the dining area downstairs see and hear the energy of the water falling from above. 

People on the street are at eye level with the top of the waterfall and enter the bar via a glass stair that spans over the void and pool below. As people move up and down the stair they experience the falls from up close and at different elevations. The water is filtered and recirculated in a continuous loop between the main bar and the lower dining room. At the back of the lower level is a small highly efficient commercial kitchen where tapas and other small dishes are prepared. 

In keeping with the natural materials of the existing space we have maintained the brick wall, exposed the wooden joists and extended the bar-back made of wine crates to the dining room below and out to the street. The Wine Wall is built of fine wines and exhibits the bar's evolving collection as certain bottles are consumed and new wines introduced, making the architecture an active participant in the pleasure of drinking and wine tasting. The rear dining room on the upper level is intended to be a more relaxed seating area for eating tapas by the stone fireplace that also doubles as a banquet seat.


The design concept for "Big Bang" nightclub is based on creating a journey through time and space within an intergalactic environment. The 3000 square foot industrial space in the Meat Packing District is filled with clusters of glowing bubbles, transforming it into a space age escape, specially suited to a unique nightclub experience. The bubble clusters vary in size, function and luminary output, creating a cohesive yet highly dynamic sense of universal wonder. 

The expansive tinted glass façade offers a glimmering welcome, appearing as constellations of stellar formations. Upon entry, one engages a double height dance floor filled with bubbles at different levels and with varying functions. They are used as light fixtures, skylights, and "space pods". The pods provide seating, and have an adjustable top piece that can be lowered for sound insulation. Different scales of these forms are also integrated into other elements throughout the nightclub. 

Bubbles of varying diameter penetrate the roof plane to bring in light during the day, and project light out in the evening. These bubble lights also provide disco lighting to the dance floor on the roof. Some of the space pods are recessed into the floor of the roof garden, and function as seating, while others may contain water, plants or trees. A wall of ivy separates the club's roof garden from the remainder of the roof creating a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere with its own private bar. 

The mezzanine level allows for another lounge area and has a view into the main dance floor. The DJ Booth is one of the bubbles overlooking the space below. Film images are projected from the mezzanine onto the bubbles, creating a special effect. 

All of the space dedicated to utilities such as, bathrooms, kitchen, coatroom, storage and offices are relegated to the rear areas on each floor. There are also two means of egress for re-entry to the mezzanine and the roof terrace.


"Bazaar" is a new concept for an up-scale bar/restaurant specializing in authentic Persian cuisine. The presentation of the food, atmosphere and music will integrate the exoticism of the East with the comfort and modernity of the West, providing its guests a unique encounter with eastern hospitality. 

The double height central space will be covered with a large dome made of translucent cast resin featuring intricate Islamic geometric patterns. Beneath it, the main dining area, lounge and bar offers dramatic views of the dome above, and from the mezzanine level the back of the dome becomes a luminous fountain. It's faceted geometry dramatically improves the acoustics of the space so that patrons can easily hear one another even while the DJ sets the mood with exotic lounge music from around the world or lively late night dance music. The lounge will be filled with small red glass lights reminiscent of pomegranates, a popular ingredient in Persian food. Suspended from the dome structure, these lights create a jewel-like datum across the space. 

Surrounding the main space are more intimate dining areas built on platforms in order to provide privileged views of the people in the lounge while affording customers a more serene dining experience. These elevated dining spaces are covered by smaller domes and separated from each other by intricately carved wooden screens that create a veil between private dining areas. Arabesque patterned silks, Persian tapestries and termeh with paisley motifs and silver thread embroidery will be used as upholstery and seat cushions on wooden banquets. 

The overall plan is inspired by the spatial organization of the Persian bazaar, in which smaller more intimate domed niches surround the main space. All of the domes are made of cast resin in quadrants and can be easily reproduced from a master mold for cost efficiency and easy assemblage on site. The translucency of the domes will allow for the filtering of light from above through the painted patterns on the inside surface of the domes. 

The universal elements of water, fire, wind and earth are clearly represented in the design. A water feature, being a sacred element of any Persian garden, will cascade down the backside of the central dome. The trickling sound of the water is meant to sooth the soul and refreshes the atmosphere for customers dining or lounging on the mezzanine level. 

Tanour, an open charcoal/wooden grill with mud brick exterior, will be used for making fresh bread as well as meat or chicken brochettes (kebabs), corn on the cob, and del o jegar (liver on skewers, a regional street food). 

During the summer, a retractable skylight at the top of the dome will open to the sky creating a breeze to carry the smell of exotic herbs, fresh jasmine and tuba roses through the space, adding to the pleasure of the atmosphere. 

The mystical writings of world renowned Persian Sufi poets, such as Rumi, Khayam and Hafez will be given to patrons at the start of each meal, inspiring them to enjoy the intoxicating pleasures of life, love, food, wine, and mysticism, which these poets so eloquently captured in their writing. 

Attractive and distinctive looking waiters and waitresses will serve patrons wearing ornately embroidered silk outfits, inspired by the glamorous clothing of the Qajar Dynasty mixed with a touch of sexual allure evocative of the Harem. 

Bazaar brings the romantic past and mysticism of Persia to New York via a journey of cultural and culinary discovery as East meets West in an environment of unparalleled sensuality and exoticism.


The design of this Italian restaurant in New York City attempts to merge the traditional and authentic Italian cuisine with the vivacious and trendy social scene of SoHo. It achieves this by exposing the original elements of this landmark site to its basic wall of bricks, wooden beams, wide plank floors, and wood windows, while introducing a minimalist and yet prominent design gesture of a continuous glowing communal table. This allows for a welcoming atmosphere of socializing and interaction, between the customers, the staff and the food in all its stages of transformation from raw to a gourmet's delight. 

The linear table on the first floor is positioned on an angle creating a communal dining environment where strangers can meet and interact with one another allowing for a direct people watching experience that is an intrinsic part of New York and Italian cultures. In addition, the second floor dining area provides a more intimate and classic dining experience which is a perfect setting for private parties, wine tasting, etc... 

The table begins as a flip up counter at the window, displaying food and serving pedestrians on the street and then gradually becomes the bar. As the existing floor rises further into the space, the bar top turns into dining table height. It moves through the kitchen and serves as food preparation table. At the end it becomes vertical and folds back out towards the dinning room as a soffit above the table. The linear table suggests a continuation of the dining experience into the kitchen or vise versa. The kitchen can be separated by hanging food products to form a screen wall made of pasta extruded from machines above, or sausages, garlic, and even pots and pans used by the chef. 

The table top is made of a translucent material with lights inside which transforms from a pristine white table during the day, to a gradually,illuminated and glowing object running through the space at night, setting the different moods with varying color light. The table is further illuminated from above with suspended light fixtures made of grappa bottles of different shapes and sizes. 

The design of seats and bar stools on the first floor are inspired by and made of parmesan cheese molds. The chairs upstairs are more formal, facing two long bench/ banquettes at either sides of the room. The wooden bench is a continuation of a shelving unit from the first floor that ribbons and folds to the upper floor. 

This shelving unit creates an area for display and sale of food products produced at the restaurant or elsewhere and is integrated with the stair treads leading to the second floor. One tread becomes a counter for customers as they wait to be seated. The 3" wood treads become shelves at every other step. They also function as storage and counter for the wait station behind the stair, thus utilizing the space more efficiently. 

The new handicap bathroom at first floor is enclosed with acrylic walls covered with "pasta machine dies". This creates a screen wall, allowing light to shine and glitter through, indicating occupancy. 

The proposed design provides a flexible and open environment that transforms from morning to the evening, through the use of the glowing table, allowing for an interaction both socially and experientially.