Clayton, Food and Drink

I Fratellini Refreshed By Designer David Kent Richardson

Zoë Robinson’s I Fratellini reopened last week after a week-long refresh of its interior. Designer David Kent Richardson, in close collaboration with Robinson, led the Clayton restaurant’s subtle revamp.

Robinson is quick to point out that this is not a remodel, but rather a refresh of the restaurant’s décor. “The configuration is all the same. It’s just like putting on a new dress—it’s still you,” she says. “People feel an ownership over I Fratellini, they feel possessive of it, because it’s been there for so long. It has become an institution and I didn’t want to change things too much.”

Robinson says that with Richardson’s input—the two have been long-time friends and collaborators—choosing how to update the space without completely changing its look and feel was not difficult.

“These are things we talk about every day,” says Robinson. “It was narrowing things down, which was more difficult than anything. Keeping the integrity of the place was at the forefront.”

Seventeen years ago, Richardson and Robinson worked together to design the Italian eatery at its conception. In the interim years, the two have collaborated on Robinson’s nearby restaurants, Bar Les Freres and most recently at Billie | Jean.

Throughout the years, the duo has made small tweaks to I Fratellini’s decor. With this latest refresh they wanted a more dramatic update, without it feeling too radical. “Quite frankly, after walking in there every day for 17 years, she was tired of looking at the same old stuff,” says Richardson. He calls the revamped interior “a subtle seduction with a respectable amount of aggression.”

The changes include an introduction of Louboutin red in specific areas around the restaurant. “It’s just like the soles of those shoes. It’s just so subtle,” says the designer. The two elected to whitewash the brick walls, using a high-gloss finish on the ceiling for contrast. The woodwork has been stained a shade darker, and new, 100-pound light fixtures from Flos called Skygarden have been added.

 

“It looks pretty damn sexy. And I hate using that word,” says Richardson.

The red is also a nod to artist Pierno Fornasetti, who used the color in his artwork. Plates depicting Fornasetti’s muse, the opera singer Lina Cavalieri, adorn a wall.

The two say the refresh is subtle, but dramatic.

“I don’t want to make it sound like everything is exactly the same,” says Robinson. “But it is—intentionally so.”

Article originally posted by STLMag