Jennie Cannon West
Design is in the Details
If you haven’t been to Copper Vine Winepub, then you’re in for a treat — both when it comes to the food and wine, and also the interior design. Jennie Cannon West, owner of Studio West Design & Architecture, has thoughtfully curated a space that is warm, welcoming and absolutely beautiful. West, who is originally from Nashville, has dual degrees in architecture and interior architecture from Auburn University and was a member of their notable Rural Studio program. She moved to New Orleans in Oct. 2009 to work with a large architectural firm on post-Katrina work. “I was immediately hooked, and I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon,” she says.
West spent the first part of her career working on large architectural projects. As her career and the New Orleans market have evolved, she has found more opportunities to renovate and incorporate her love of interior spaces. “I love being able to work on every aspect of a project from the exterior detailing to the finishing touches of space,” she says. “My passion for food and travel is what has sustained and enhanced my personal interest in interior design.”
Prior to opening Studio West Design & Architecture, she worked for a diverse range of firms in New Orleans that were involved in all scales, from historic rehabilitation and commercial institutional work to the Tulane Football Stadium. Copper Vine is her first solo project. “This project has all the elements that I want to see in my practice moving forward,” she says. “The design is thoughtful and has a point of view. The historic fabric of the building has been preserved and highlighted with the contemporary interiors and courtyard. The result is a project of its time. We were able to incorporate an eclectic number of local artists and fabricators in the interiors. It was a highly collaborative design project with good people. It was fast-paced and fun.”
West describes her design aesthetic as unpretentious, eclectic and approachable. She also says that she works best with high-energy clients who have a point of view, and that’s exactly what she found at Copper Vine. “The project started as a small interior refresh with new paint and a quick makeover of the first floor,” she says. “Learning about the history of the Maylie’s Restaurant, in combination with the vision of the owner, it developed into a larger renovation and interiors project. The owners [Brechtel Hospitality] felt comfortable working with me and trusted me to bring their vision for the space to life.”
The owners were focused on bringing wine on tap to New Orleans, and they wanted a comfortable space that feels like a New Orleans neighborhood gastropub. “The design restores the historic elements while making bold contemporary assertions,” West says. “At key moments, the vintage interiors meet modern elements to create an unexpected and unique pub interior. I want people to feel relaxed and unwind in the space and come back often for a glass of wine. There are a variety of seating options from the outdoor courtyard and balconies, first floor bar and casual space, main dining room on the second floor and private dining/event spaces on the second floor. I also hope the space sparks conversation and people find their own favorite moments over time.”
The owners had already chosen the name Copper Vine, and West ran with that theme by subtly incorporate copper accents into the space. These include the copper accented entry door, copper color tap line, copper vine hothouse wallpaper in the restroom and the barstools (which were sourced from West Elm Contract to impart a warm, copper-like color). “We started with blue and copper, and it all evolved from there,” West says. “I did not want the copper to overwhelm guests, but rather be in the details. We worked with lots of textures to create the relaxed feel of the space: copper; antiqued brass; cognac or saddle leather; blue velvet; terra cotta; steel; antique rugs; walnut; Tigerwood tap handles; GeoLuxe bar top; antique mirrors; and an integrally stained concrete.”
Other standout design details include the array of artwork and lush greenery throughout the space. West curated a mixed-media artwork by Josh Hailey, entitled “Golden Age,” to work with the copper accents in the bar. “Angela Deane’s custom wine ads with aliens are some of my favorites,” West says. “It tuns out the owner has a love of aliens, so they quickly became a must-have for the space. Angela was thrilled to create ads for the space; we quickly vetted through several options of vintage ads. They turned out beautifully and add an unusual surprise to the water closets.”
West met with and curated pieces from many talented emerging artists. Local artists include Mary Singleton, Josh Hailey, Mash Buhtaydusss (Barbie L’Hoste and Brandt Vicknair), Gabrielle Gaspard, Hunter Holder, Tammy Mercure and Brent Houzenga. Meanwhile, historic photos were sourced from The Historic New Orleans Collection, ebay and The Time Picayunes archives. Upstairs, a wall of antique mirrors transform the space and bring in more natural light. Luna Botanicals also provided mounted staghorns, bromeliads, air plants and moss boxes. West sprinkled these around the space to bring some greenery to the indoors.
Custom pieces were also created for the space, including the copper tap line, 38 copper taps and custom Tigerwood tap handles. These were carefully added and designed to integrate into the layout of the historic bar. Meanwhile, custom-built stemware storage provides a pub feel for guests and bartenders.
Outside, a new veiled courtyard that was added to the historic property is filled with lush, tropical plants. “Since Maylie’s is a historic landmark, we worked closely with the local Historic District Landmarks Commission to get approval for a contemporary courtyard adjacent to the historic structure,” West says. “The steel trellis provides a solid structure for the wisteria, muscadine and passion vines. The lush planters and hanging potted plants provide noise calming and enclosure to the courtyard from the busy intersection. Banana plants, birds of paradise and elephant ears, among many other tropical plants, fill the space. Benches feature Ipe wood backs, custom indigo outdoor cushions and a mixture of Sunbrella fabrics for pillows, while layered Safavieh outdoor rugs were inspired by one of the owner’s favorite vacation destinations in Mexico.”
Overall, West says that working with a wonderful owner, contractor and hospitality team made this project what it is. “We are fortunate to have a team that believes in the brand and is committed to creating a unique wine experience in New Orleans in a fantastic historic building,” she says.