Can An American Interior Designer In Paris Tie French Culture To Intelligent Design? Cuoco Black's Curio Parlor Lounge Does So As A Metaphor For Life Above And Below Earth

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Miami and New York City based interior designer Cuoco Black traveled to Paris after winning the contract to design a second lounge for his young clients. Under their direction Black is invited to design a two level space embracing a Parisian cultural icon...taxidermied animals. Such design gestures might seem somewhat insensitive to those whose cultural lineage is not linked to France, but the French hold their taxidermy in high esteem. Designer Black's cerebral interior is an elegant and dignified palette which marries architecture, entrepreneurship and history.

New York Times Curio Parlor Lounge Design By Cuoco Black

The design of the two story lounge is a metaphor for the organisms of life above and below earth...taxidermied creatures on the upper level...shells and prehistoric relics in the lower. Cuoco Black

Close to 180 years ago a well known French entomologist, Baptiste Deyrolle, opened a charming shop on the tony Rue de Bac thereafter known as Deyrolle. As a museum-cum-emporium the establishment had become a cultural landmark for the French. Its inventory of eccentricities included all manner of beasts, bugs and bones and when fire destroyed much of the holdings everyone from the regal owner to the minister of culture initiated a campaign to restore the institution to it's early glory.

As interior designer Cuoco Black and clients toured the sprawling and equally eccentric Parisian flea market at the Porte de Clignancourt he received a detailed history of the Deyrolle. Strolling the streets, alleys and booths of Clignancourt is in itself an emotional experience say Black, one that binds the soul to the artifacts and heritage which makes Paris so singularly romantic. Black says he came away from the excursion with a deeper understanding of the cultural syntax which makes Parisian decoration so intrinsically emotional. Black says that interior design is much more than artful orchestration of attractive and "like" appointments. He goes on to illustrate how interior design has been hijacked by the media, and how the cliches (the boutique design aesthetic) permeate the profession undermining the potential for interior design to be elevated to a higher form of art. Designing in Paris, he says, is an exercise in intelligent design unrelated to trending influences.

Black had already successfully guaranteed his clients marketplace dominance with the first lounge he had designed. The Experimental Cocktail Club at 37 Rue Saint-Sauvier had succeeded, within seven months of opening, to generate one of the highest grossing lounge revenues per square meter in Paris and went on to become one of the Best Bars in the World as noted at foodandwine.com....receiving equal praise in diverse media outlets on a global scale. The second lounge they said, The Curio Parlor, would need to embrace the same edgy and sophisticated design as the first, but needed to express an aesthetic which would resonate with an older and savvy customer. In a design brainstorming session an idea was introduced to develop a concept which would give to the public - that which would resonate with their emotions - a design aesthetic tied to the Deyrolle.

Charged with such a delicate mission Black approached the project not along typical design trajectories but in a proprietary process he calls the point at Tabula Rasa, his interpretation of a "blank state" theory based on ancient Western doctrines. "I reduce design to it's fundamentals," says Black. "I allow the naturally occurring rhythms of a space to direct the design." I like to play with the idea that I'm channeling the universe says Black. The lounge had two levels, how natural was it to recognize that organic life transcends two states, says the designer. As a metaphor for life above earth the designer specified taxidermied animals throughout the upper level of the lounge, and as a reflection of life below earth, he decorated a curio cabinet in the lower level with a splendid collection of shells, insects and skeletal appendages.

The new lounge, The Curio Parlor, went on to achieve equal if not greater appeal than its predecessor The Experimental Cocktail Club...both of which have assisted the owners in launching clubs in London and New York City...and oddly enough.... during a global recession that has touched all of industry. Ed Alcock of the New York Times says "The geeky hot spot Curio Parlor is a speakeasy-style lounge popular with a chic Parisian crowd" and the huffingtonpost.com, by way of PartyEarth.com, calls the Curio Parlor "a hip mixology joint with an exaggeratedly chic decor".

About Cuoco Black
Cuoco Black is a former faculty member of the New York School of Interior Design from which he holds a BFA with distinction and Professional Design Diploma.

He believes the art of interior design has been lost to the boutique design aesthetic and designs according to natural rhythms which reflect the spirit and personality of his clients. He calls this design at Tabula Rasa, meaning...the design of a commercial space should be a reflection of a company brand or....in the case of a home, design that embraces some emotional component of the owner’s personality. Whether an ancient Parisian subterranean vault, a New York City concrete volume, or a sophisticated Miami geometry, Cuoco Black will provide you with beautiful interior design resulting in a higher form of art.

His work has been featured in the New York Times, Bloomberg.com, Bravo.com, FoodandWine.com, and Elle Décor FR. His design for the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris France has garnered his clients a “Best Bars in the World Ranking” at #13, by Bartender’s Magazine.

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