In a city that seems to be dominated by hues of browns and brass, or as artist Signe Pierce calls it, “brassthetic,” Rose Gold in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood is a breath of intoxicatingly neon fresh air.
Located beneath the sleepy nautical-themed restaurant, Cape House, Rose Gold serves as its sister club and cocktail bar where local DJs and bands play to Bushwick’s young and baby-banged crowd. The space is laden with warm pinks and purples, and your eyes are immediately drawn to the Twin Peaks-esque white and black, zig-zag floor. Twirl around after a few drinks and you may fancy yourself as an extra in The Neon Demon, minus the cannibalistic models…hopefully.
Pierce and partner Safwat Riad were tapped to design Rose Gold after having been introduced to co-owner, Ben Ward, by a mutual friend. Everything just fell into place.
“It was clear pretty early that they were going to bring something really special to the project,” Ward says.
The pair brought their individual expertise together to design the bar. Pierce, who works with light and color in her art, handled the general design and Riad, who works with metal, focused on the construction and design of the bar area.
“Signe brought the vision of what the vibe should be with the color palate and general overall aesthetic,” Ward says. “She also came up with the name Rose Gold, which I think we all loved right away. Saf put together some great designs for the bar and seating and constructed them beautifully.”
Pierce and Riad put it on themselves to set Rose Gold apart from what they say are typical New York bars.
“I wanted the space to look different from some of the other spaces in New York City and also wanted to challenge myself to think outside of my own box, a.k.a. not just cover it with palm trees,” Pierce says. “Although, there are palm trees. It’s a lifestyle.”
Meanwhile, Riad treated the bar area as an opportunity to create an artistic art piece.
“I personally like to think of the back bar as being a sculptural art piece that can serve as being more than just a shelf,” Riad says. “I feel like a lot of back bars in New York lack in originality and concept, so for me it’s important to try and elevate it to an artistic place.”
The coppery, rose gold bar structure looks like an upside-down cocktail glass. Riad says he based this decision on tarot cards.
“My early sketches and drawings were inspired by the Ace of Cups tarot card,” Riad recalls. “The card means joy and inner peace from friends and family. The five streams pouring out of the cup represent the senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. My goal was to treat the back bar as a centerpiece that gives off good, joyful vibes. I tried to encompass that with the design of the steel back bar, which embodies the image of the upside-down cup on the tarot card.”
Cult filmmaker David Lynch and author Frank Herbert were also key inspirational figures in designing Rose Gold.
“The zig-zag Twin Peaks floor served as an initial jumping-off point,” she says. “We liked the idea of having a trippy floor for people to dance on. As I continued developing the identity of the space, I kept looking at different aspects from Lynch’s films: the set decoration from Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, along with the visuals and cover art from the novel Dune (which Lynch adapted into film).”
As much as Rose Gold feels like a purely visual medium, both Pierce and Riad say they want to bring the controlled chaos emitted in Lynch’s works to a tactile reality. In addition to mind-warping cinema, Riad looked to painter Edward Hopper for inspiration.
“I want my designs to make guests feel as though they are stepping into a scene, assuming the roles of actors who are playing in a trippy, psychedelic movie,” Riad says. “They enter the club and become nighthawks from a modern Edward Hopper painting. When they step into a creative, artistic environment, I want it to feel as if everyone in the space is abstractly involved in a performance art piece that has become reality.”
While Rose Gold is pumping breezy, neon whimsy vibes by the gallon, perhaps it’s Pierce’s pet peeves that show through the most.
“I hate the wood-paneled, brown and brass aesthetic — we’ll call it brassthetic — that dominates New York bars,” she says. “I don’t understand why that became the dominating interior design style for this era. I can’t stand that tawny, faux-sophisticated pretentiousness. It’s somewhere between ‘artisanal Williamsburg bro’ and ‘Financial District douche.’ If there’s a taxidermied animal on the wood-paneled wall of your brass-encrusted bar, I’m not going.”
Rose Gold, 96 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11237, 718-821-2580