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The Secrets of a Restaurant Interior Designer

Karen Herold shares tricks of the trade

Interior designer Karen Herold has had a hand in crafting top eateries like Girl & the Goat and GT Fish & Oyster. She struck out on her own with her Studio K firm and is working on GT Prime, as well as a factory design for Vosges Haut Chocolat.

What’s the best thing about working in Chicago?
“We are in the world of restaurant design and Chicago is becoming the place for the best culinary excellence.” 

What makes your work distinctive?
“From an aesthetic point of view, our work expresses a passion for honest materials. We tend to layer lots of textures of natural wood, leather and plaster to create a warm environment that makes people want to come back.”

GT Fish & Oyster

Inside GT Fish & Oyster

What do you consider the most important elements of a restaurant’s design? 
“Lighting and sound largely contribute to the levels of energy in every space. Besides that, it needs to be comfortable. We always choose comfort over ‘wow’ moments.”

What’s your favorite space in the city? 
“It might sound cheesy, but right now my favorite place is my own office. We have all worked so hard to turn our office into a comfortable and laid-back space, and this is my home away from home.”

What are you currently craving?
“A Picante de la Casa cocktail (Cazadores reposado, lime, agave, chili and cilantro) on the roof at the new Soho House and the bacon-wrapped dates at Avec.” 

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