Our restaurants have a sophisticated interior design that’s all our own. We attribute much of this style to the talents of artist Bill Lupkin, a Fort Wayne, Ind.- based artist who has created stained glass windows and mosaics for each restaurant.
Bill has created unique designs for each restaurant, working with our contractors to ensure that the art will enhance the space. We recently sat down with Bill to talk about the look he’s created and the creative process for each restaurant.
How did you come to work for Eddie Merlot’s?
“We were originally were asked by the architectural firm for the restaurant they were building in Fort Wayne. They had basic ideas for what they wanted and we did the fabricating. After that one, when we had the meeting for the next one, which was Indianapolis, I suggested having a meeting and showing some ideas they might be interested in, and getting a more involved type of artwork, something a lot different than what they had originally proposed. (Eddie Merlot’s owner) Bill Humphries was very accepting of my ideas.”
How would you describe the designs you create for Eddie Merlot’s?
“It’s very contemporary. It gets more abstract each time. The colors are a lot of earth tones, a lot of beiges, soft browns, oranges, reds and yellows. The biggest thing I’ve tried to do is take that real earthy palate and insert turquoise and dark blues, and break in with clear glass and white. Otherwise, your eye becomes very very tired. That’s what makes it pop is the way the colors countercharge each other.”
How do you typically get started on a project?
“They give me sizes, and we have an initial meeting to see if there is any new colors they’re adding. Then it’s pretty much thrown at me and I go at it. Time constraints are tight on the projects. I lay out most of the mosaics myself. A couple of my sons take the designs and set it. For glass, I do a full-size drawing.”
How much freedom do you have to create artwork for the spaces?
How has the artwork changed over the years?
“It’s gotten better. The one that we just did in Louisville is much more organic. We used a lot more natural stone because there was a lot more mosaics. The stained glass that started in Indianapolis has also progressed and is more abstract pattern and I really like the ones we did in Cincinnati and Columbus. I really think Louisville is the best one.”
Our thanks to Bill for taking the time to talk to us about his work. We think it’s been key to creating the elegant atmosphere we wanted for the restaurants and we’re happy to have him on board.