Set in a reclaimed space in Manhattan, the pop-up opened at the end of January. The press material says the resto intends to explore “what a dining experience can be and how we can play with the traditional expectations of dining out.” And it’s not just the design that transforms on a monthly basis: the food, the music, even the branding gets reinvented.
Elle Kunnos de Voss and Nadia Tolstoy of design firm The Metrics are behind the design concept, which changes lighting, colour scheme and spatial elements that play with perspective every 30 days. “We started off with the premise that we were in fact designing nine different restaurants and that each of these restaurants would have its own integrity and experience,” says Kunnos de Voss.
The first concept – a “monochromatic landscape of deconstructed volumes and fixtures” – features white-framed furniture and cardboard chandeliers. A new sound composition helps to amp up the sensory environment. For January, the two-hour composition samples such sounds as snow slowly covering plastic foliage, rural bonfires (taken from Youtube videos) and orchestras warming up.
The menu emphasizes pared-down ingredients. For its debut month, What Happens When servies up Nordic and Northern Germanic fare, like potato skins with wheat beer fondue; a “hunter’s plate” comprised of pig parts, bitter greens and bread dumpling; and carrot parsnip cake with pineapple, coconut and cashews.
What Happens When, located at 25 Cleveland Place, is open until the end of October.