Several review visits this winter took me to interiors you might categorize under the umbrella term of Southwest Minimalist, a look whose label has bubbled up in part from the blogger world.
It’s an extension of a minimalism we already know, but earthier. Warmer. Minimalism without the austerity. And it has something going for it that for a restaurant is not a bad thing, particularly after a glut of Edison-bulb industrial chic: it feels good to be in. This is no small part of why my visits at Sixty Vines in Plano and Smoky Rose in East Dallas stretched out, so pleasant was it to be there. In December and January, their interiors—light, airy, simple but textured—were an antidote to winter. And more than that, they were soothing.
You know the look is Southwest Minimalism when you’re having flashbacks to your last trip to Santa Fe, Phoenix, the deserts of California and Nevada, or Marfa. Sunlight spills through windows onto raw wood, indigo-dyed pillows, and leather. It’s uncluttered, stylish, relaxed—a desert aesthetic that shares with Scandinavian minimalism a palette of neutral tones, the primacy of natural light, and the evocation of nature through rustic wood grain. At Smoky Rose, smooth stones, like simple river rocks you might hold in your palm, fill the planter that divides bar from main dining room. There are air plants in the bathroom.
The Dallas designers behind the two restaurant’s looks have similar words about the logic.