Creating places where people’s experiences matter is the leitmotif of Brooklyn-based design firm Islyn Studio, founded by creative director Ashley Wilkins. Sawmill Market, its latest project, perfectly reflects this idea of a recurrent theme.
Located in Albuquerque – a state known for its Route 66 – in New Mexico, this innovative place is an ode to the entrepreneurial spirit of the American West and the local culture through food and design. Spread over 3,716 sqm, Sawmill Market brings together owner-operated restaurants, cocktail bars, farm-to-table pantries, taprooms, demo kitchens and pop-up shops.
The Islyn Studio team transformed what was once a lumber warehouse into a food hall and experimental culinary and cocktail laboratory. The first of its kind in the Southwest of the US, the interior was inspired by the building’s industrial origins and the landscape and culture of New Mexico.
The diversity of culinary options attracts multiple generations of people in a space where each area has a different aesthetic while being a part of the same coherent concept.
To name a few, The Botanic Bar masquerades as a lush greenhouse apothecary slinging cocktails from house-made tonics and local dried herbs. In Paxton’s taproom, the open shelves, the wooden pegboards, the stacked lumber and the hand-painted signage are all a nod to heritage woodworking.
Flora Mexican Restaurant, adorned with neon flowers and vintage treasures from Oaxaca, transports one to the vibrant, ambient surroundings of Mexico City. And The Mercantile Cafe & Wine Bar, the heartbeat of Sawmill Market, is inspired by the New Mexican houses depicted by renowned artist Georgia O’Keeffe.
Then there is the expansive outdoor terrace – ideal for movie screenings, picnics and co-working – that also affirms Sawmill Market’s ambition to become a cultural, culinary and creative hub.
“In architecting the layout, we were inspired by the flexible functionality and wise use of space in traditional Navajo trading posts and employed similar wayfinding structures throughout,” Ashley says.
“As for the historical materials, we weaved in storied elements of heritage and indigenous craft such as handmade tiles, saddle leather and earthy as well as organic layers that serve as both a homage to and – given the industrial architecture – a surprising subversion of New Mexico’s signature adobe.
“Perpetuating tradition, we feature the works of local artists, artisans and expert craftspeople and woodworkers throughout the site.” What’s more, the majority of the materials, including the reclaimed wood, were found just kilometres away from the building.
Visit www.sawmillmarket.com for more information.