Good food, an upscale nightlife vibe, and a nature-inspired ambiance are hallmarks of this new Chi-town resta-lounge.
Opened in May at 113 West Hubbard Street in Chicago, Mercer One Thirteen is a unique hybrid restaurant-lounge that has been described as an “urban forest” with bold natural graphics inside and a double-sided fireplace as a centerpiece.
The venue was inspired and designed by entrepreneur Roman Sanchez (the mastermind behind such Windy City hotspots as Social Twenty-Five, Moda nightclub, and Moe’s Cantina) and his long-time friend Rocco Laudizio, a principal at the architectural design firm Slick+Designusa, which specializes in the entertainment and hospitality industries.
The two decided to collaborate on a sophisticated “forest” that would be a one-of-a-kind visual experience. “Roman was very specific on the direction he wanted to take with the green/earth/forest-inspired concept,” Laudizio explains.
This 6,000-sq.-ft. restaurant and lounge is separated into two distinct areas by the glass-enclosed fireplace, creating an intimate and exclusive atmosphere. Nature-inspired textures and colors meld seamlessly to create a modern and sleek ambiance with a rich earthy color palette enhanced by pops of mango yellow
The three large bars are distinguished by marble tops with a web of forest brown veins in a random pattern. Below, the bar façade includes alternating wood louver panels and antique mirrored glass that catch and reflect the light. Above the back bar are custom-built acrylic boxes that illuminate the repeating bark pattern and highlight the bottles. Underscoring the motif of natural materials are the linear ledger stone tiles, two-tone wood planks, and a series of columns with abstract nature prints on glass panels that are backlit by LED. Each column contains four LED-illuminated glass panels that showcase abstract nature graphics.
Laudizio says he wanted the lighting to be an active design element and have the ability to change the room’s mood via color. To meet that goal, he incorporated RGB DMX-controlled LED lighting behind the glass image panels and along the bar fronts. His criteria was to have unlimited color-changing options in a double-density LED strip light with a beam angle of 120° and brightness of 350 lumens per meter.
The overall mood that Laudizio was trying to achieve was an illuminated natural forest. “I wanted to keep the mystery of nature and the calm, peaceful modern ambience,” he notes. Laudizio also wanted to give Mercer One Thirteen the option of being versatile and for the lighting to assist the restaurant team in providing the best experience for the guests. The ability to change the colors of the ambient lighting allows the restaurant to be personalized for events, private parties, and themed nights.