At Modern Luxury, connection and community define who we are. We use cookies to improve the Modern Luxury experience - to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also may share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. We take your privacy seriously and want you to be aware that we have recently made changes to our Privacy Policy, which can be found here.


Burning Question: Is There Life Beyond Reclaimed Wood?

Sara Deseran | January 29, 2013 | Story Restaurants

Among current restaurant-design clich├ęs like subway tiles and Edison bulbs, there’s one that has almost become a parody of itself: walls covered in slats of old wood. Found at every hot new restaurant from Rich Table to Gioia Pizzeria, reclaimed wood is to a dining room what pork sugo is to a menu—inoffensive but ubiquitous. Is there any alternative?

Douglas Burnham (whose company, Envelope A+D, designed Locanda) says, “Reclaimed wood comes from a nice starting point—the green story behind it. But I would think about painting it with a super-chromatic color, so it’s the same sustainable material, but not this weather-beaten thing.” As for other overused elements, Burnham has wearied of penny tiles, which he used at the first two Pizzeria Delfinas. For the restaurant’s third location, he says, “we’re looking at how we can bring a mega-scale texture to the floor.”

Lauren Geremia, the designer behind Citizen’s Band and the Instagram offices, says, “The economy dip brought on this kind of DIY, but now the DIY look has turned into a serious craft.” (Those wood walls, in other words, might not be so cheap today.) “I’m also seeing a lot of high-end metalwork—copper and brass. And Heath Ceramics makes tiles that can give the effect of wallpaper.” But Geremia believes that the earthy, artisanal sensibility is probably here to stay. “It’s still about mid-century furniture, wood, concrete, and marble. I think people want things with staying power. But who knows—maybe the disco era will make a comeback.”

Originally published in the February 2013 issue of San Francisco Magazine

Have feedback? Email us at
Follow us on Twitter
Follow Sara Deseran


Photography by: