Artist and designer Larry Wilson has a singular ability to distill the exhilarating aspects of a given environment into sublimely elegant and appropriate forms. In his work, both personal and professional, his capability to seemingly effortlessly articulate an environment results in startlingly beautiful solutions.
Larry’s most recent professional project, under the umbrella of his company, Designmind, is one he emphatically describes as a “total collaboration.” Working with owners Alan and Ellen Cottrill, the trio has built out Hobnob, the newest dining addition to 220 Riverside. It is playful, but intentional and thoughtful too. “Iron sharpens iron, and that was a part of the fun of the process,” says Alan Cottrill.
Combining stand-alone moments of pause, with transitional spaces to encourage conversation and interaction (a social exchange), the entirety of the restaurant takes on a personality that is refined, welcoming, and dynamic. This was the goal from the start, explains Alan. The Cottrills also own River City Contractors, a firm that has built out some of the area’s newest and most talked-about restaurants, including Sbraga & Company and The Candy Apple Café & Cocktails.
For Hobnob, “We have the capability not only to imagine these things [with Larry], but to fabricate and install them ourselves,” Alan explains as he gestures to undulating, handcrafted panels on the ceiling and a custom-built, adjustable community table just visible from the cozy semi-private dining room, a space which bears inspirational words on the wall.
“It was really important for us,” notes Ellen, “to have a place that is infused with art and feels like a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.” She then mentions that the almost wall-length abstract blue mural was commissioned from her friend Carol Soritz Shelkin, a Philadelphia-based artist. Made with Murano glass, the shimmering blue panels are a pleasing counterpoint to the custom blue glass spheres, envisioned by Ellen and Larry in the lounge area. Fabricated by Jacksonville University assistant professor Brian Frus and several student helpers, the spheres feel as if they ripple across the ceiling, subtly energizing the space.
Article written by Madeleine Peck Wagner • Photos by laird