Creative Design Work by Fay Jones School Professors Wins Interior Design Educators' Award

The Nicolett, a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas, infuses West Texas history and culture with elevated French cuisine. This adaptive reuse project was designed by Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, professors in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.
Melinda Harvey

The Nicolett, a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas, infuses West Texas history and culture with elevated French cuisine. This adaptive reuse project was designed by Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, professors in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

The creative design work of two Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design professors was recognized at the 2021 Interior Design Educator Council's virtual conference earlier this spring.

Jessica Colangelo, an assistant professor of architecture, and Charles Sharpless, an assistant professor of interior design, received an award for "Best Creative Scholarship Presentation: Design as Interior" for "The Nicolett: French Cooking in the Texas Panhandle." The pair are also principals at their professional design firm, Somewhere Studio.

"As faculty working to establish a design practice, we are very excited to have this aspect of our creative scholarship recognized by a national design educators' institution," Sharpless said.

The Nicolett is a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas, that infuses West Texas history and culture with elevated French cuisine. This adaptive reuse project fits a new dining room, bar, kitchen and support spaces into an existing one-story terracotta masonry storefront building.

By bringing together the old and new in the structure and creating cultural connections through a shared appreciation of craft, the Nicolett attempts to engage a broad audience and facilitate a new experience of food and design in West Texas.

The interior design for the Nicolett, which is named after the first hotel in Lubbock, was initiated with the creation of a logo, theme and brand for the restaurant from the combined research and conversations on the spirit of the place by the designers and owners. The Nicolett's culinary and design vision stemmed from an interest in melding the simplicity and refinement that is embodied in French cooking with the utility and rugged beauty of the high plains of West Texas.

The construction of cowboy hats served as an analogy that was able to connect the chef's French cooking background with the designer's modern details. In all three areas, a high level of craft and execution is required to create a final product that is refined in its simplicity, relatable in its utility and immediately identifiable in its aesthetic statement.

After analyzing the many different cuts and styles of cowboy hats, the restaurant logo came from the most simplified profile of the Open style cowboy hat, which has a dome-like shape. This simple profile of an arch with out-turned legs became a motif that could then be repeated beyond the two-dimensional logo in the forms and detailing of the project.

"The project is a great example of how the history and culture of a place can be infused into the design process, as well as how small details can play a role in generating a larger design concept," Sharpless said. "This design methodology aligns closely with how we teach the creative aspects of interior design and architecture in studio at all levels. It is incredibly useful to have projects like this as case studies to inspire students in the studio setting and to get them excited for their future in design practice beyond the Fay Jones School."

Interior of the restaurant The Nicolette in Lubbock Texas
The Nicolett, a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas. Photo by Melinda Harvey.

Contacts

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

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