When realizing Eavesdrop, a new Listening Room, restaurant and cocktail bar in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, co-owner Dan Wissinger wanted to introduce New York to the historic line of Japanese listening bars, which began in the 1950s. “I wanted to use as much as possible the idea of what the body form of sound is,” Taylor said when describing the main design goal for the space. Sound is ” obviously not a visual medium, so since there is nothing to look at, you have to create something that people can associate with, even if they don’t know much about sound.To do this, Taylor drew from his background in designing audio systems for clubs and recording studios to create a lush wooden interior composed of handcrafted elements, each strategically located to create different ambient levels of sound throughout the venue.
At Eavesdrop, which opened in March, materials were carefully chosen to visually connect people to the moving sound waves that surround them. These materials include birch plywood (often used for speaker construction), white cast concrete terrazzo on the handmade bars and furniture, Cork (which provides some sound absorption), and flat surfaces. Custom pieces abound, including a wall of small mirrors rastered at variable depth opposite the DJ station, which exhibits light-scattering characteristics similar to a disco ball. This reflective wall breaks the sound waves coming from two large Swiss cheese-like Tom Danley SH60 speakers.
The speakers and diffusion wall are integrated into a surrounding interior of neutral beige, Cork and plywood undertones that define the walls, bars and accents. Overhead, wooden ribs embedded with warm LED strips define the front bar area with dramatic flair before turning down to divide the wall of bottles, themselves lined with mirrors, allowing patrons to see themselves in space. After the grand opening earlier this year, Max Dowaliby joined the Eavesdrop team as head of the Food Program, which offers small plates and mixed drinks with a nod to Japan.
Eavesdrop maintains a strict capacity for 36 people to create a comfortable and relaxing listening experience. The idea is to come as you are and meet with music in the most democratic space possible. While a traditional Japanese listening bar forbids talking, eavesdropping ignores this previous meaning, the once withdrawn act of escaping is transformed into vibration in an environment where the act that inspired the name of the bar is possible. Here, singing and socialization predominate, because listener has transformed its 1000 square meter space into a modern temple for music.