On July 25, Oceana will close the East 54th Street space it has occupied for eighteen years and move a few blocks southwest to Rockefeller Center. The move is sourced to an expired lease — but crowds have been thinning as of late, according to owner Nick Livanos, and after two decades, the restaurant needs some updating, he said. “The present location was beginning to feel dated. The idea of moving is something that’s appealed to us for some time, and here we’re able to reinvent [Oceana] in a very exciting way.” The new space, opening just after Labor Day, might be a roll of the dice: It is expanded, with a dining room that will seat 165 (up from 150), the bar 20, and the raw bar (new to Oceana) 12. With luck, Rock Center tenants like Howard Stern will take advantage of the private dining at the chef’s table or in the wine cellar. As for the look of the place, the ceilings are fourteen feet high, the fabrics are “nautilus inspired,” the plank floors are made of Brazilian cherry, and the bars are Paneozetti marble. The complete statement from designer Kim Natheson, as well as a bonus rendering, is below.
The design goal was to honor the history of Rockefeller Center, but make it current. This was explored and interpreted in the lines of the interior architecture the lighting, furniture and material choices. The space itself was divided into a café/bar, dining room dining suites, wine suite, and chef’s room. Each area is allowed generous ceiling height (14 feet) and windows draped with an elegant nautilus inspired fabric. The materials used to decorate the restaurant are a balance of drama and quiet. The ceilings are stepped, oversized coiffures with timeless trim and detailing. The floors are Brazilian Cherry Wide Plank wood, laid straight.
And a custom carpet in the private rooms will also absorb sound.
The walls are simply paneled and painted in a rich “French” cream-colored, lacquer-like finish, however there are large clad columns through out the space with oversized Sconces on all four sides. This creates a very dramatic effect in both light and proportions. The materials of the bar and raw bar are Paneozetti marble which is wildly veined and blue agate mosaics. The back bar is constructed with marble again, but it is a soft and “quieter” marble. The lighting is a combination of those large, dramatic sconces and large double-tiered chandeliers of polished chrome and alabaster, modern yet timeless. One of the design surprises is the “wine suite,” also called the “jewel and the fish tank.” The room stands alone in the center of the space and is made of glass, which is then clad in wine storage (a barrier to view, if you will). Inside the room itself hangs 9 light fixtures from Aqua Creations, a series of suspended silk fabric amorphic light fixtures resembling something in between a jelly fish and an urchin shell. These playful soft lights are seen form every room in the restaurant.
The design always enforces the element of the sea. The furnishings are simple, elegant and comfortable, the booths are generous and tall, allowing the customers privacy, the fabrics used are mostly all in the “blue family,” but always balanced with the warmth of the wood frame and the surroundings. The artwork, which is reserved for the entire back wall of the restaurant, are over 75 museum-quality ocean species’ engravings exquisitely framed and tightly grouped. The art gives the dining room a very exciting graphic element.