Faculty & Alumni Project Spotlight


Blue Olive, a multi-faceted, gourmet Greek food cuisine emporium has arrived in New York City thanks to a collaborative design endeavor between NYSID faculty and alumni.  Ethan Lu, director of  graduate studies at NYSID and principal at Metropolitan United Studio (MUS) along with Jason Kim spearheaded a team of NYSID alumni and faculty to design the restaurant.

The team included  Dan Friedman, a former Associate at MUS and a current NYSID faculty member; alumna, Laure Aerts (BFA, 2012) and Naoko Yamazaki, a current student in the MFA2 program.

Opened in January 2014, Blue Olive is located in the Murray Hill neighborhood of  Manhattan. It is the latest culinary venture from Stavros Aktipis, who is noted for his New York restaurants Kellari Taverna and Martinique.  The design features communal tables surrounded by food stations and a wine bar, which allow “tastings” like Eataly, the appeal is smaller and more neighborhood in feel.  A center island for daily food demonstrations, such as guest-chef events, wine tutorials, and cooking classes make Blue Olive more than just a restaurant.  Stations set throughout the stone-and-wood space include a yogurt bar, a meze counter for tzatziki and tabouli and counters for prepared-food items.

Given that sustainability is key to Lu and MUS’s design practices, numerous sustainable elements of the project were employed, including adaptive reuse and up-cycling. “Sustainable interior materials were specified on our drawings whenever possible, such as low-VOC paints and adhesives. Our client had Tiffany-style lighting fixtures from his other restaurant in Washington, DC that he brought up to New York to be reused for this market.  Some of the furniture and décor pieces at the market were made from reclaimed wood or were reused from other locations.”

 “The space was formally an office space, which presented unique ‘from the ground-up’ outfitting for its new use as a food service business,” said Lu. “What you don’t see behind the interior design are the complex dealings with Con Ed and the coordination of a myriad of electricians and technicians.”

Within these thoughtful and healthy elements, customers enjoy their fare surrounded by a Mediterranean color palette with tones of salmon, bright yellows, and soothing herbal greens, which function as a counterpoint to the shiny white tile walls. A stone floor runs underfoot and a pergola opens up the ceiling where pendant lamps create atmosphere with their yellow glass.  The team employed reclaimed wood, stone, and marble for the counters and tables to evoke a rustic, modern feel.


Phyllis Greer