Behind The Design of New York’s Coolest New Restaurant

The one that’s been clogging your IG feed.

By: Fiona Byrne
Photography: Alec Kugler

When designers and restaurateurs Taavo Somer and Carlos Quirarte conceptualized their Lower East Side restaurant Le Turtle, Somer knew one thing: he wanted its design to be simple thesis of contrasts with a very New York downtown feeling. A trained architect, Somer designed a unique space, filled with contrasting materials and high-low moments.

His previous design credits include Freemans (you can thank him the now ubiquitous old timey mixology and taxidermy trends), Gemma at The Bowery Hotel and The Rusty Knot. But for the intimate Le Turtle space, which serves Modern French food, he turned to Carlos Scarpa and 1980s Miami for inspiration.

“With Le Turtle, I wanted to go into new territory so I started playing with materials, sort of like how we did in architecture school,” he says. “Rough versus smooth, shiny versus dull, and very elemental things like concrete, stone, wood, leather, steel and glass. It was really about focusing on the materials and playing with materiality and contrasts.”

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