The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is nearing completion of Iron Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant, Volvér, slated to open in April 2014. Anchoring Broad and Spruce Streets in the heart of Philadelphia’s cultural district, Volvér complements the international performing arts organization as a destination for the finest in culinary arts.
The Philadelphia architecture firm KieranTimberlake has designed the new space with interiors by Marguerite Rodgers, the designers of nationally-acclaimed restaurants including Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, XIX, Fork, Striped Bass and Rouge. The restaurant contributes to Philadelphia’s growth as a unique culinary destination, by merging, for the first time, a restaurant space within a regional performing arts center.
Entered directly from the street or from within the Kimmel Center, Volvér’s dining room and bar face Spruce Street, with fully glazed walls extending into the sidewalk to engage the streetscape and enliven the presence of the building. The interiors will be an inviting, urbane space that incorporates bespoke furnishings, custom cabinetry, and numerous crafts including fibers, metal, leather and glass hand crafted primarily by local craftspeople and fine art in various mediums to create the intricately detailed atmosphere for which Marguerite Rodgers is known.
Themes of craft, the arts, travel, and the art and culture of food and cooking are visible throughout the restaurant, and are reflected in exquisite details such as a woven bamboo pendant by David Trubridge, custom furnishings and cabinetry by Marguerite Rodgers Editions, and a rotating gallery of photographs from Jose Garces’ travels.
Central to the experience are works by artists and craftspeople which include a large installation by Jessica Drenk, a commissioned painting by Sabine Friesicke, a pair of sculptural wood painted panels by Darrell Copeland, a painting by Brooke Lanier, and a stitched leather bar face by Michelle Costello. Rodgers’ collaborations with local art and craftspeople include a textile art installation by Conrad Booker, curved glass bottle display by Greg Nangle, metal shelves and easels by Warren Holzman and woodworking by Mark Jewett and Mike Meline.
When asked about the inspiration and concept for the restaurant interior Marguerite Rodgers reflected. Volvér or “to Return” is a return to some of Chef Garces favorite meals from his world travels. For Rodgers it’s a return to her roots, the art and culture of craftsmanship. Rodgers, who studied woodworking in the Crafts Department at the Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts, had her woodworking studio within a block of the present Kimmel Center. Here her passion and practice of collaboration with craftspeople and artists to achieve richly detailed projects began. The restaurant is an opportunity to bring her work and the work of a variety of artists with unique visions and skills together to create the stage for an artistic meal.