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A Coastal-Casual Collaboration—Skylar Morgan Furniture + Design Meets The Optimist

Atlanta’s new westside eatery - The Optimist includes custom furnishings and millwork from Skylar Morgan Furniture + Design.


Spend an evening at The Optimist on Atlanta’s foodie-happy west side, and you can feel it in the air: everything here tells a story. The tale: summer camp via a Venice Beach surf shack circa 1972; fresh, fun and worn-in comfortable. The storytellers: Skylar Morgan Furniture + Design commissioned by Design Consultant Smith Hanes—co-conspirators in perhaps the most refreshing dining room and gathering space in the city.

The Optimist is a practiced assemblage of interior refinement drawn from a sun-washed memory, a summer’s dream punctuated by a gently curving surfboard-shaped bar, adorned with weathered wood wall-hangings made of repurposed lumber drying slats, and grounded by solid, long and low banquettes plus servers’ stations in Skylar Morgan’s signature oiled walnut. Chef Ford Fry (JCT, No. 246) helms the kitchen, completing the holiday getaway scene with sustainable seafood prepared in a visible, Hades-hot wood burning oven.

“We always seek out partnership with our clients,” says Stephanie Aron Morgan, Skylar Morgan Furniture + Design’s managing director. “Helping the vision evolve and come to life in the best way possible is what we love most. We don’t simply fabricate—we source materials, make suggestions, and love the back and forth with our clients.”

This push-pull of ideas is everywhere in The Optimist’s overriding aesthetic. The main dining room (featuring a chef’s prep table, server’s station, furniture-like banquettes with a sense of permanence not typically found in upholstered pieces, and reclaimed lumber re-imagined as crab-trap-like wall hangings) meld’s Hanes’ refined-industrial aesthetic with Skylar Morgan’s warm modern undertones, tying burnished steel together with oiled woods and softly shimmering subway tiles. The Oyster Bar is another world entirely, with a slat ceiling and bar created by Morgan, the latter topped by light wood with a custom limestone wash that appears weathered by sea air. Here, surfboards abound, and Morgan’s gathering-space-casual mindset plays well with Hanes’ comfortable vintage vibe. The result is so natural that the space at times feels almost salt and sand strewn, some 250 miles from the nearest wave.

“Skylar has the ability to synthesize an idea to the realized product faster than any artisan I work with,” remarks Hanes. “The speed and accuracy with which he works is truly admirable. His commitment to the client getting what they envision is exceptional. Skylar cares deeply about his clients, his projects.”
 Visit The Optimist, settle into one of Skylar Morgan’s banquettes (upholstered in beautiful neutrals by Bjork Antkit Studio), gaze through the Oyster Bar’s clearstory windows and sample a bit of the sea in landlocked, citified Georgia at 914 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta, 30318.
Skylar Morgan Furniture & Design is a design-build studio that creates friendly, functional pieces for commercial and residential spaces—unique, high-end architectural woodworking and custom furniture designed to be eaten upon, stomped on, worked around and most importantly, lived with.
Smith Hanes is a renowned design consultant focusing on interiors and finishes with a scrupulous eye for detail. His other food-focused projects in the Atlanta area include the new Watershed restaurant, JCT Kitchen, No. 246, Farmhouse at Serenbe, and Bella Cucina. 


 Restaurant Interiors
 Custom Furnishings
 Architectural Woodworking
 Atlanta New Restaurants
 Modern Furnishings

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