When Stephan Pyles opened Flora Street Cafe in the heart of the Arts District, the chef and restaurateur wanted it to reflect its surroundings. But, he says, “I knew I couldn’t compete with the DMA”—he could not, for example, afford to hang a Mondrian or a Picasso.
“I wanted to blend the arts and nature,” Pyles says. “Knowing that we were looking out at the Pritzker Award-winning architecture of the Meyerson and the Winspear, it needed to be something that was captivating and artistic in itself.”
Enter the Shylight, a light sculpture designed by Amsterdam-based design firm Studio Drift. The body is constructed like a delicate silk parachute, and a computerized motor in the ceiling controls its actions, which are finely orchestrated. Your eyes are drawn to its dramatic but silent descent, and then to its bashful retraction, the precise movements of a flower’s opening and closing condensed into one motion. People sit in the bar area and stare at it, transfixed.
Five such fixtures form a permanent exhibit at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, but Shylight is the first of its kind in the United States. It came at a cost: while the piece can sell for north of $35,000, safety analysis and extensive fire testing placed the price tag much higher.
But the final result is worth it. Flora Street Cafe—and this corner of the Arts District—has its blooming flower.