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All About: Animae San Diego

Partnering with Bells + Whistles, Brintons produced 615 square yards of unique Axminster carpets for Animae San Diego.

Inspired in part by an ancient remote forest on Japan’s Yakushima Island, a bespoke Brinton’s wool carpet stretching the length of the 6000 SF room mimics the sun-kissed forest floor as custom noir terrazzo snakes like a shimmering river alongside it.

Barbara Rourke, Founder and Creative Director of Bells + Whistles, graciously let us in on the brains behind this beauty of an installation.

Working with these mossy greens in was a refreshing bold break in carpet color. Talk to us about the overall design narrative.

It was a new building that opened in September 2019. Sadly, the restaurant closed during the pandemic but is optimistically looking forward to reopening.

We can’t always choose the spaces our clients move into. Rectangles are much easier to design. Animae is a curve inside a curve with very tall ceilings and columns running down the middle. We live for challenges, working out solutions that follow a curving path was difficult at first, but then we saw new opportunities for flow that we hadn’t seen before.

One may easily liken entering the glass door to Animae, just steps from San Diego bay, to stepping through a portal into a dreamy enchanted forest. Nestled into the ground floor of the luxury Pacific Gate Bosa tower, Animae’s design is a sexy Japanese mossy Art Deco mash-up that brilliantly compliments Brian Malarkey's distinctive coal-fired pan-Asian concept.

Lush jade-toned, velvet booths rise from the floor as huge tête-à-tête spheres of cedar trees that segue upward into art-deco architecture, layering the space with a fantastical, theater-like experience.

Lavish green velvet curtains float above a hand painted gilded cave that envelops a coral velvet banquette. Draped fringe-covered columns contribute to the feigned forest whimsy, while golden Fortuny chandeliers hang throughout. The 20-person bar at Animae also provides a feast for the senses. On center stage is a backlit mural of Berlin artists Sauer and Posavec's, Big Chuck, depicting a dystopian mech battle of a future yet to come. Surrounded by scalloped uplighting from which deco wings spread and take flight.

Luxurious and cozy, earthy and sophisticated, Animae is an enchanting space dripping in gold in which to dine and dream.

Was it a challenge to design for a building like Animae? Any interesting hurdles?

We can’t always choose the spaces our clients move into. Rectangles are much easier to design. Animae is a curve inside a curve with very tall ceilings and columns running down the middle. We live for challenges, working out solutions that follow a curving path was difficult at first, but then we saw new opportunities for flow that we hadn’t seen before.

One of the most important parts of restaurant design is to create a seamless flow between front and back of house. We push and pull more than what’s wanted to integrate a cohesive design, so the function of the restaurant is supported by the design. We see ourselves as the left hand of the chef, if we do our job correctly, then the design is a natural extension of the food and service.

Last but not least, what was it like working with the Brintons team?

We were extremely impressed by the customer service team we worked with at Brintons for our custom carpet at Animae. The process of designing and fabricating the 100+ foot long custom, curving carpet felt painless. Brinton’s allowed us to focus on the design, while they seamlessly worked through the logistics behind the scenes. We had big dreams for this project, and they made it happen without a hiccup!

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