The tobacco farm-aesthetic that diners can now experience at Southern Proper, the South End’s newest eatery, was designed by Boston-based RODE Architects. Located on the ground floor of 600 Harrison Ave., RODE Architects developed its southern hospitality concept for the restaurant in tight collaboration with the food vision of Executive Chef and Owner Jason Cheek.
While having worked in the Boston architecture landscape for over 20 years, both Founder/Principals of RODE Architects have strong ties to the South; it was at NC State that the friends-turned-business-partners met and acquired their design degrees, making for the perfect partnership with Cheek, who drew from his North Carolina roots to bring “a taste of home” to Boston through the creation of Southern Proper.
The fully-integrated design approach of RODE’s interior group involved getting to know Cheek to fully understand his conceptual vision and operational needs. Many chefs have a very specific culinary inspiration for their food and craft, and through RODE’s rigorous design process they transform the culinary vision into the built environment, ensuring a thoughtful and well-executed dining experience.
To compliment Southern Proper’s authentic dishes and drinks, Cheek sought to outfit the restaurant with a unique environment. Jessica Haley, RODE’s lead interior designer, headed up this effort, developing a design concept that provides authentic, thoughtful nods to a southern home: relaxed, inviting and slightly eclectic. The design incorporates the feeling of a “down-home Sunday dinner,” a concept that inspired the centrally located oval bar. Additional elements, co-designed and fabricated with BHaley Designs, include seating options for large family-style tables, high tops and dining height tables. Custom designed tiered standing tables are positioned for casual eating and mingling. Further inspiration came from that of a traditional tobacco barn to create the ‘bones’ of the space where raw pine timbers crisscross overhead and rough sawn planks are back lit above the bar.
RODE incorporated traditional elements in a contemporary way throughout the space, for example creating a bar top made from a series of antique old dining room tables, and the hanging reclaimed table lamps upside down to make “old comfort” feel unexpected. The design also incorporates antique style wallpaper and light fixtures, green and gold accents, and smoke-infused, raw pine walls that allow natural light to seep in through the floor to high-vaulted ceiling spanning the perimeter.
"Southern Proper is paying homage to Jason’s roots, and he took great pains to deliver a traditional southern experience, so we wanted to ensure the atmosphere would reflect that vibe in the most authentic ways possible,” said Eric Robinson, principal and co-founder, RODE Architects.
The growth of RODE Architect’s interiors group echoes the broader demand for design expertise and services that bring the firm’s clients' visions to reality, such as the work achieved for notable spaces including Commonwealth Market and Restaurant, Coppersmith, Dot Brewery, La Brasa and SRV. RODE’s architectural and interior designers collaborate on a wide array of project types, from corporate to hospitality and mixed use. For more information visit www.rodearchitects.com.
Images by Sarah Storrer