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Dieter Cartwright brings magic to social spaces

Inspired by travelling, literature and societal agendas, Australian native Dieter Cartwright of Dutch East Design believes that hospitality is more than just about functional spaces.

The present reality is, dining out isn’t just about what’s on the plate anymore. It’s the full experience from the moment you step in, to when you leave. Today’s hospitality scene invites sensorial and immersive experiences with chefs often cast as the main act, food becomes art, and the restaurant the stage.

Determined to challenge the complex landscape of hospitality is Dutch East Design. Nestled in the concrete jungle of New York City, the interior design and branding powerhouse has hospitality projects dotted across the city and beyond. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to practice, the studio is passionate about delivering unique and provocative visual identities for every brand.

Dieter Cartwright of Dutch East Design. Photography: Jessie English

Partner and co-founder, Dieter Cartwright, is looking to rewrite the hospitality rulebook with immersive consumer experiences and artful spatial journeys. Joined by partners Larah Moravek and William Oberlin, their practice is defined by an explorative and innovative nature, along with their passion for transforming ideas into reality.

Hailing from Australia, Dieter has spent his fair share of time tending bars and managing venues. “My move to interior design came from a passion for hospitality,” he says.

He first worked at PTW Architects specialising in high-rise and large-scale projects. From there he moved to design firm MARKZEFF in New York. “It was a natural progression for me to combine my two passions – design and hospitality,” he comments. Taking on a multivalent role, Dutch East Design prides itself on close client relationships and a hands-on approach. Dieter puts a strong focus on developing an impactful positioning for projects – right from inception. Here he draws on his background in operations to find a balance between the aesthetic and social, functional agendas of any space.

M.BIRD by Dutch East Design. Photography: Seamus Payne

M.BIRD by Dutch East Design. Photography: Seamus Payne

Sitting on top of the historical Armature Works building in Tampa Heights, Florida is M.Bird for restaurateur Noel Cruz and hospitality group BE1Concepts. Originally constructed in 1910, the new rooftop venue breathes new life into its historic neighbourhood, regenerating it into a vibrant community and cultural destination. Open, expansive and inclusive, the atmosphere at M.Bird invites every individual to feel comfortable and included in the conversation.

At the forefront of M.Bird’s design is a vibrant scheme of warm millwork interwoven into the existing fabric of the venue. The mission was to complement the historic structure with a nostalgic yet avant-garde design. With an aesthetic of tropical hardwood and lush green embellishments, the open, immersive space prioritises socialising and comfort – putting customers first. Aptly named for its abbreviation of Florida’s state bird, the mockingbird, the design was to be deeply-rooted in its tropical locale with an exposed outdoor bar and lounge facing west to catch the Florida sunsets.

Strangers Club by Dutch East Design. Photography: Jessie English

Ichicoro Ane by Dutch East Design. Photography: Seamus Payne

Other hospitality projects include Ichicoro Ane, Oxalis and Strangers Club – all speaking to that human-centric approach characteristic of Dutch East Design – while also respecting location and context. Akin to the studio’s philosophy, every dining experience has its own place in the bigger conversation, bringing forward a distinct story that speaks to each brand’s respective DNA.

When asked what his biggest inspirations are, Dieter says: “I often find myself pulling from a very broad range of experiences to enrich a design – life has been a study of how we all come together and share our spaces.

“It’s very inspiring to connect with people over a drink and a meal, with old friends and in the forging of new friendships, while exploring somewhere new.” Through his projects Dieter continuously seeks that sense of magic that can be achieved by reimagining the boundaries of hospitality design to create immersive and memorable experiences.

Ichicoro Ane by Dutch East Design. Photography: Seamus Payne

If you loved this story, you might also like this opulent bar-restaurant by Pierce Widera in Melbourne.

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