Walk into Chapter One and everywhere, elements of the interior combine to make your time here as pleasurable – we hope – an experience as our food. Fine art, craft and design are all around.
On each table gleams a small, gold-leaf-lined piece by master woodturner Emmet Kane. Lustrous, ebonised oak on the outside, these purely decorative pieces seem almost lit from within. Although the tulip-shaped vessels are on a small scale, the level of craftsmanship they display is immense.
The craft doesn’t end there. Bread, baked daily in-house, is served freshly sliced in asymmetric, handwoven baskets by Joe Hogan, and whether you opt for an espresso or a glass of champagne, there is a sleek piece of design by Dublin duo DesignGoat to tempt you, the latest being a brass and white Corian drinks trolley whose gleaming curves make it a thing of beauty. It’s certainly caught the eye of more than a few of our diners.
And then there is the art, about which Ross is passionate. Around you, paintings small and large, figurative and abstract, make their presence felt yet do not dominate the space. At reception the latest addition to Project Art is displayed front and centre. With its vivid colour and gestural brushwork, Leah Hewson’s expressive ‘Bathe in Encounter’ evokes the immersive, full sensory experience of eating a meal. And hung against dark wooden panelling, two pairs of small, unframed canvases by Helen Blake pop like jewels.
At Chapter One we’ve always believed it’s the people that make the atmosphere, but we also understand the value of great design. Everything our guests see and touch has been designed to ensure their experience here is a pleasurable, even sensory one, and not just in terms of their encounter with the food.
So the pieces we’ve commissioned showcase the talents of Irish artists and craftspeople who rank alongside the world’s best. But underpinning and complementing all of it are the interiors themselves, by Irish interior designer Maria MacVeigh. Known for her sleek, pared-back designs and use of luxurious yet understated natural materials, the award-winning MacVeigh has been collaborating with us for over a decade.
These are contemporary interiors that, like our food, let the materials do the talking: every element is carefully curated, yet always with an eye for how people experience the final product. In short, they work. Chairs are comfortable, carpets thick and surfaces soft, ensuring the atmosphere is shaped by conversation, not noise. Sight lines are clear, and every surface invites you to touch it, to inspect it closely with the hand or eye, whether it’s the grain of the parquet or the woven silk wallpaper in burnished gold in the private dining room known as the Jameson Room.
Building on previous refurbishments led by MacVeigh, including the addition of a Chef’s Table in 2011, this latest design phase is the final one in a multi-phase project that has taken over a year to complete.
MacVeigh began in 2017 by adding new carpeting in the main dining spaces, practical yet elegant parquet flooring in the hallway, upholstered banquette seating and, just in the Jameson Room, that tactile silk wallpaper. The materials palette is contemporary yet organic, earthy even: stained oak; dark-grey upholstery fabric with a soft sheen; and a mid-grey carpet with a scattering of abstract willow leaves in mustard, supplied by Stepdevi in London. In each of the two main dining spaces, curved banquette seating ensures that those eating at the central tables have the same intimate experience as diners elsewhere in the restaurant. No-one misses out.
But perhaps the biggest change has been the addition of stained oak panelling on some walls. MacVeigh started last year with a single wall in the first of the two main dining rooms. In the final phase, the same panelling was installed in the second dining room and, most dramatically, in the bar, where new, sleeker chairs offer diners a comfortable perch for their pre-dinner drinks. The juxtaposition of smooth, polished wood with the rough, cut stone of the listed Georgian building’s original walls is beautifully judged.
As ever with this most exacting of designers, the finish and level of detail are impressive.
The overall feel – as is so often the case with Maria’s work – is one of refined, elemental luxury that we believe very much complements our food. But perhaps most importantly for both her and the Chapter One team, the new design continues to function really well, allowing the team to put the focus where it needs to be: on ensuring people enjoy their time here. To the full.