interior of restaurant with green booths and art on the walls
Courtesy Emily Dorio

Audrey Nashville Fuses Appalachian Tradition and Japanese Taste

Sean Brock’s new restaurant is filled with local Appalachian art and Japanese-inspired furniture.

Sean Brock’s latest restaurant and concept space, Audrey, evokes the landscape and sensory charms of the Nashville-based chef’s native Appalachia while laced with sleek design elements inspired by his other culinary touchstone: Japan. Located in East Nashville, the two-story, 10,000-square-foot building previously housed local plumbing company Jack Ward & Sons. Designed in collaboration with Nashville’s Powell, Audrey seamlessly fuses rustic and modern features to create a warm and welcoming minimalism.

A unique textural detail links interior and exterior: The exterior shell by Pfeffer Torode Architecture is made from wood preserved using the traditional Japanese Shou sugi ban method. That pattern is inverted and echoed in the interior walls, which are lined with custom-made tiles by Red Rocks Tileworks, cast using pieces of the same burned wood.

interior of restaurant with bench and large hanging chandelier
Courtesy Emily Dorio
interior stairwell detail of restaurant with art and quit hanging on gray walls
Walls decorated with rotating pieces from Brock’s extensive Southern folk art collection feature quilts from Gee’s Bend and paintings by Butch Anthony. Courtesy Emily Dorio

Audrey’s design is split into distinct yet cohesive sections, each resonant with textural similarities and shared materials. On the first floor, the main dining room conjures the grassy hills and tree-lined mountains of Appalachia. Lush green chenille banquettes sit beneath a ceiling of hand-raked porcelain tiles that reference Southern basket-weaving patterns, the walls are adorned with pieces from Brock’s personal collection of Southern folk art, and native woods are woven throughout the space.

The restaurant acts as a showcase of local talent, including lighting design, ceramics, wallpaper, and furniture. At the top of the main staircase sits a hand-rubbed, blackened steel bar topped with live edge walnut, surrounded by Japanese-style lounge furniture custom-made from local live edge white oak. Above the bar, custom hanging fixtures serve as lighting, speakers, and herb-dryers.

interior of restaurant with windows overlooking the street
Courtesy Emily Dorio

The restaurant also features a more intimate, pared-down dining room for chef’s tasting and small parties. Nestled between an open kitchen and an innovative, glass-fronted “research and development lab,” the room’s modern black and white palette contrasts with the warm wood accents. The lab, which doubles as a five-seat dining space, features concrete counters and high-tech equipment designed for the kind of specialized culinary preservation projects Brock is known for.

“Sean knows what’s necessary for exceptional, functional restaurant service,” says Katie Vance, partner and interior designer at Powell. “That’s an amazing asset. We worked hard to incorporate his extensive knowledge into the design, while still making it beautiful.”

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