David Rockwell, founder of Rockwell Group has recently completed the design of New York City’s second Tao, Tao Downtown restaurant, bar and lounge.
Located in The Maritime Hotel and spread across 22,000 SF, Tao Downtown consists of a restaurant, bar and lounge on the ground (mezzanine) floor, a large main dining area on the cellar level, and a separate lounge spanning both the mezzanine and cellar levels. Like its Midtown predecessor, Tao Downtown exhibits dramatic design accents and elements that evoke Asian culture, while also connecting to the unique space it occupies – in this case, the Hiro Ballroom and Matsuri spaces at the hip Maritime Hotel in the Meatpacking District.
Meant to resemble an underground hideout that may have been an Asian speakeasy or theatre, Tao oozes with grit, danger, and dark seduction. Decaying brick walls overlaid with faded Chinese calligraphy patterns become a distinct backdrop to the space, while antiques, sculptures and found objects adorning the interiors further enhance this urban catacomb.
A grand staircase leads guests down to the spacious main dining room. Situated on the stairs are furniture pieces that allow for flexible seating arrangements, with round banquettes lining the edges. As guests descend, they are offered a glimpse of the towering 20’ Buddha sculpture at the opposite end of the space. An LED screen behind the Buddha will project organic, abstract colours and forms, becoming a unique stage for the sculpture. A screen made of Swarovski crystals and fortune cookies hangs in the middle of the main dining room, softly obscuring the view of the Buddha. This layered element escalates the spectacular moment of surprise, creating multiple experiences for guests.
TAO Downtown occupies the former Matsuri and Hiro Ballroom spaces in New York’s Maritime Hotel. Rockwell Group re-envisioned the two-story space as a Gotham speakeasy with an Asian sensibility. The restaurant, bar and lounge layer raw and industrial elements, and vintage Asian-influenced details.
The LAB at Rockwell Group developed several animations for Quan Yin, a 20’ statue in the main dining room. The LAB utilized 3D projection mapping software to wrap the animations around the sculptural form, allowing Quan Yin to seamlessly transform before guests.