As plans came together for the space that houses Brennan’s Work and Leisure, co-owner Kevin Brennan pulled ideas for interior design and furnishings from an eclectic mix of companies. Guided by the mantra “Don’t change too much or too little,” he took pieces of the successful model that’s already established at the Brennan’s Central West End location and incorporated them for the new Midtown co-working space, which also offers offices and a café.
One of the standout partnerships throughout the process was Centro Modern Furnishings, a retailer of high-end furniture, lighting and accessories.
Centro’s signature chair lines and lighting fixtures were perfect for the “inclusively exclusive” ambiance Brennan was looking to create. The offices and co-working space will have a variety of rates and amenities, so balancing quality and affordability was key. And the café needs to be inviting when customers start rolling in at 7 a.m.
Among the pieces he chose were Moroso Mathilda bar stools made of wood and leather, which are durable and practical—and comfortable, a non-negotiable as far as Brennan is concerned. He also invested in Emeco Alfi barstools in the front bar.
The seating from Centro is thoughtfully mixed in with furnishings and design from around 20 other companies. “You can include some of their products to have an original, high-end look,” he says. Best of all, the Centro staff came on site to discuss the look and feel Brennan wanted. “You can show them what you’re doing and say, ‘What do you think?’ They make suggestions, but you choose.
Centro co-owner Todd Lannom and store manager Steve Schuepfer have been collaborating with Brennan for 15 years, ever since the CWE Brennan’s bought its first lighting fixtures from the shop. It’s the type of relationship the Centro team loves to build. “Since we opened Centro to the public in 1998, we’ve always offered ‘house calls’ based on the scope of the project,” Lannom says. “We’re all very visually stimulated at Centro, and seeing a client’s actual space allows us to provide solutions we might not have considered in the absence of a site visit. There’s often something lurking in the corner, or an architectural detail that the client hadn’t mentioned while in our store, and that small sighting can often be the jumping-off point for a more creative and considered design solution.”
One of those unique features at Brennan’s Work & Leisure was 18-foot ceilings in the front, where the café is located, and 14-foot ceilings in the back. Brennan loved the height, but also wanted to avoid making customers feel intimidated by the scale. The solution was Flos lighting and desk lamps from Centro.
Brennan’s insight into the ambiance is one of the reasons Centro enjoys partnering with him. Lannom counts Brennan among the restaurateurs with “the inherent talent and instincts that allow them to create spaces where I want to spend my money and time. Their spaces are different and unique every time. Most importantly, they don’t look like anything else in St. Louis,” he says. “His creative energy and ideas inspire us, so we enjoy getting in his head, visiting his project sites and offering a more personalized and higher level of service to him.”
In the highly competitive independent restaurant world in St. Louis—not to mention the ever-expanding assortment of co-working options—it’s necessary to stand out visually. Brennan says he appreciates that Centro’s staff knows what others in town are using, so he can avoid duplication.
“I’m personally infatuated with restaurant design,” Lannom admits. “I love food and cocktail culture, and I dine out several times a week to stay on top of the local dining scene. I do this for personal enjoyment, but also because we have so many out-of-town design enthusiasts passing through our doors. We take great pride in referring customers to those restaurants where the owners have given equal consideration to the food they serve and the design of the surroundings.”