President Trump has made plenty of headlines for all his time spent palling around in south Florida during his first two years in office, but, given that he was recently slapped with a cease-and-desist order for using Pharrell William's "Happy" at his rallies, the commander in chief probably won't be scoring a table at Williams’s first restaurant, Swan, in Miami, anytime soon. One look at the tropi-cool addition to the beyond-hip Miami Design District, however, and he's sure going to want to try.
Opening on November 7, the restaurant—from Williams and hospitality impresario David Grutman—will feature light small plates by executive chef Jean Imbert and interiors care of New York–and San Francisco–based designer Ken Fulk. “Swan is a curated experience from my partners and me," says the multi-hyphenate Williams, who even got the region's premier landscape architect, Raymond Jungles, on board. "The proof is in the details of this breathtaking venue.
Breathtaking indeed. Fulk approached the 250-seat restaurant, lounge—an upstairs lair deemed Bar Bevy—and walled courtyard that incorporates mature tropical trees and dramatic draperies for an indoor-outdoor effect with a holistic vision. As for colors, Fulk conjured up the Old Florida of his childhood, and while the mint-green and conch-shell-pink palette would seem more at home in Palm Beach, Fulk says it’s a straight-up ode to authentic Miami juxtaposed with other dining destinations around town that are trying to look like someplace else.
Image: Morelli Brothers Pink permeates further in the rose onyx bar and lowball glasses of delicate Depression glass. The branding (all done by Fulk's firm), down to the porcelain dinner plates, is adorned with pink and green bands and Swan’s logo to complement antique-inspired tableware in floral and toile patterns. “I channeled [Truman] Capote’s swans and imagined them shopping and simultaneously coming for lunch or cocktails," Fulk says, “but it all has a very collected feel.”
The designer enlisted galleries worldwide to amass a trove of fashion illustrations and other artworks to adorn walls covered in House of Hackney’s wallpapers. In the restaurant, diners are surrounded by abstract garments dancing over teal palm fronds. In Bar Bevy's darker, more exotic space, Oriental-rug themed wallpaper houses more erotic images, all of which perfectly meld with the tented ceiling. “We’re in another golden age of wallpaper," says Fulk, "and walls are the largest part of any room.”
More throwbacks like tasseled lanterns and latticework—which is used on walls and the floor’s custom pattern in white, pink, and green tiles—should shock Miamians who have grown accustomed to the city’s signature minimalism and the hipster chic movement that has taken over in the last five years. In that regard, it all might sound ripe for influencers seeking out their next Instagrammable moment—and Fulk surely had a true social media home run with his design for Leo’s Oyster Bar which opened in San Francisco in 2016—but posts weren’t a priority at this Miami project, or any of Fulk's spaces for that matter. He intends beauty to come from every direction, even the bathroom hallways.
“Swan is hands down the most beautiful restaurant in Miami," says Grutman, a savvy local player who's already planning his next place with Fulk. "I love the vibe that our entire team developed, and I know Miami will, too.” For Fulk, the feelings are more than mutual. He's so fallen for his new client and warm, sun-drenched locale in general that he has a growing list of pending residential and commercial projects in the Miami area that seemed to have sprung up almost overnight. Which just means he’ll happily be around a lot more: "Working in a tropical setting has been quite a pleasure—I’m hooked.”
Text by Rebecca Kleinman, Architectural Digest