My SAM Favorites (No. 2 in a Series)

Hidden inside the private dining room at SAM's TASTE restaurant is a full-room, permanent installation by Jeffry Mitchell, whose playful, white-on-white depictions of flowers and elephants give the space a decidedly Suessian feel. Close the doors on the bustle of the kitchen and the traffic of the street, and you'll be immersed in a world of loopy flowers, dancing bears, and trumpeting elephants. Mitchell says the room was originally "super bright, clinical white." He was brought in to soften the space, utilizing his skill at "riffing on decorative and folk art." He wanted to evoke the feel of a Pennsylvania Dutch kitchen, with commemorative plates and a floral motif. The lucky diners seated here can follow the floor-to-ceiling stripes of flowers to the garden in the corner, noticing the repetition of floral curves in the white molding close to the ceiling, repeated on the shelves that hold the porcelain elephants (trunks out, one on top of the other) and dancing bears. It's a party that hardly strays from the all-white palette. The wallpaper is a barely gray blue, and the porcelain creatures an off-pink. It's best to have a seat and spend some time following the patterns across the wall, into the corners. Mitchell says he's busy making more porcelain works to fill the plate rail. Even in its unfinished state, this room of art is a fantastic place to sit and enjoy a meal.

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