Susan B. Nagle

Susan B. Nagle received her BFA from NYSID in 1997. She is a partner in the architecture and design firm of Bentel & Bentel. She and her partners at Bentel & Bentel were inducted into the prestigious Hospitality Design Platinum Circle in 2007—the hospitality design world’s hall of fame. A variety of Bentel & Bentel’s institutional, hospitality, and residential works have been featured in magazines like Metropolis, Interior Design, Architectural Record, and Wallpaper magazine. Says Nagle, “I enjoy Hospitality Design tremendously. Because of the wide array of design and cultural issues surrounding every project, we always engage each one with heightened intensity and awareness, whether it is a restaurant or a hotel. For many of our hotel projects in particular, we investigate new ways to adapt a high-end residential ambiance to a communal setting while satisfying all of the baseline code and maintenance criteria. It’s extremely challenging, and frequently fast paced.”

While at NYSID, Nagle connected with courses like Historical Styles, as well as her residential and contract design studios. “It was in Residential Design II* that the light bulb turned on. I realized that everything that I had done up until that point, everything I had been taught, melded together, and I got it—it all clicked. That gave me a freedom which I never had before. Now it was truly possible for me to tap into my core creativity.”

Illustrated here is Bentel & Bentel’s design for award-winning Chef Tom Colicchio’s restaurant Craft in Los Angeles, which Nagle and her partners created with Colicchio’s cooking philosophy in mind. Colicchio respects the simplicity and integrity of individual ingredients and flavors, uniting them in what he feels is the “highest form of uncomplicated culinary craftsmanship,” and serving them in the same copper pans in which they were cooked. Bentel & Bentel approached this idea “by using a limited set of architectural materials and the simplest craftsmanship required to join them,” states Nagle. The overall result gives us a clean-lined yet lush space, one in which we are free to admire individual elements—a standing-seam bronze wall, existing columns in sandblasted bronze plate, the cool crisp transparency of a blackened steel and glass wine case balanced by the warm old-growth white oak flooring and custom-designed teak and walnut millwork. These elements anchor the patrons’ sensual experience of the main dining room.

“My mentor at NYSID was my Residential Design II* professor Anne Korman,” says Nagle. “In class, Professor Korman would critique the students’ work individually, and I would trail alongside listening and observing intently. By doing this, I absorbed so much. This positively made me a better designer.”

* Residential Design II is a second-year AAS and BFA class.