Inside Fantastical Rittenhouse Restaurant Wilder’s Colorful, Eclectic Style
From Persian rugs to Spanish tile, learn the design secrets of the buzzy new spot.
Opening Wilder restaurant was never supposed to take four years. Chef-restaurateur Brett Naylor and his partner and wife, Nicole Barrick, first tapped interior designer Hope Velocette for the project in 2018; she’d worked with them to bring Mission Taqueria to life. Naylor and Barrick didn’t have a name or defined concept yet, and the building they found — Sansom’s old Academy of Social Dance — needed exploratory demo. (That striking carriage door and windows were among the uncovered gems.) “Brett’s a chef and Nicole is a painter, so there were three creative people brainstorming,” Velocette says. “In that first year, there were so many ideas on the table. ‘Decadent,’ ‘rebellious’ and ‘romantic’ were key words that kept surfacing.” COVID ground everything to a year-long halt that wound up helping, says Velocette: “Your brain is a crockpot, and you’re putting all these things in it and they simmer, and you wake up one day and there’s an idea.” All that simmering led to the spectacular: a fearlessly layered, over-the-top space well worth the wait.
Velocette worked with Woven Treasures owner Parviz Yathrebi to piece Persian rugs together into a rectangle, which she hand-cut to fit her design. Framed with a patinated brass band by Philly sculptor Gregory Emore, the rugs function as acoustic soundproofing.
The mosaic floor, in a custom color palette, is from Spain.
The deep teal of the banquettes is tied into the trim for continuity in an otherwise madcap mix. “The color is consistent, so there’s some organization within all this heavy layering,” Velocette says.
Long banquettes outfitted by John Price Upholstery in a performance velvet flank the walls, while lightweight brass chairs — “maybe the only ‘off the shelf’ thing in the entire project” — pull up to custom walnut tables.
The team found five mismatched antique chandeliers at Rittenhouse’s Antique Showcase and had them rewired for commercial use.
Published as “Design: Wild Things” in the July 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.