Melinda Harvey

Le Nicolett, a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas, infuses West Texas history and culture with fine French cuisine. This adaptive reuse project was designed by Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, professors at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

The creative design work of two professors from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design was recognized at the Council of Interior Design Educators 2021 virtual conference earlier this spring.

Jessica Colangelo, Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Charles Sharpless, Assistant Professor of Interior Design, received the award for “Best Creative Scholarship Presentation: Design as Interior” for “The Nicolett: French Cooking in the Texas Panhandle “. The couple are also directors of their professional design company, Somewhere Studio.

“As a faculty working to establish a design practice, we are very pleased that this aspect of our creative grant is recognized by a national institution of design educators,” said Sharpless.

The Nicolett is a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas that infuses West Texas history and culture with high French cuisine. This adaptive reuse project integrates a new dining room, bar, kitchen and support spaces in an existing one-story terracotta masonry building.

By bringing the old and the new together in the structure and creating cultural bonds through a shared appreciation of craftsmanship, the Nicolett attempts to engage a large audience and facilitate a new experience of food and design in the West Texas.

The interior design of the Nicolett, named after Lubbock’s first hotel, was initiated with the creation of a logo, theme and brand for the restaurant from research and combined conversations about the restaurant. spirit of the place by designers and owners. The Nicolett’s culinary and design vision stemmed from an interest in fusing the simplicity and sophistication embodied in French cuisine with the utility and rugged beauty of the high plains of West Texas.

The construction of cowboy hats served as an analogy to connect the chef’s French dining experience with the designer‘s modern details. In all three areas, a high level of craftsmanship and workmanship is required to create a final product refined in its simplicity, relatable in its usefulness and immediately identifiable in its aesthetic statement.

After analyzing the many cuts and styles of cowboy hats, the restaurant logo came up with the more streamlined profile of the open style cowboy hat, which has a dome shape. This simple profile of an arch with turned legs became a motif that could then be repeated beyond the two-dimensional logo in the shapes and details of the project.

“The project is a great example of how the history and culture of a place can be infused into the design process, as well as how the small details can play a role in creating a concept. wider design, ”said Sharpless. “This design methodology closely matches how we teach the creative aspects of interior design and studio architecture at all levels. It is incredibly useful to have projects like this as case studies. to inspire studio students and excite them for their future in the practice of design beyond Fay Jones School. “

Interior of La Nicolette restaurant in Lubbock, Texas
The Nicolett, a restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas. Photo by Melinda Harvey.