Photography by Suzi Pratt
Light, warm, and welcoming are just a few of the words that chef Ethan Stowell uses to describe his latest restaurant venture, Cortina. Opened this past spring (by Stowell and his wife and business partner Angela) in downtown Seattle, the 7,000-square-foot Italian restaurant took over the space formerly occupied by Sullivan’s Steakhouse in the base of Two Union Tower along Union Street.
Cortina’s interior, designed by Seattle-based Heliotrope Architects, brings Stowell’s chosen adjectives to life via classic, simple materials such as oak (you’ll find it everywhere—wide plank floors, the slatted ceiling, casework, tables, chairs), white-paneled walls, tan leather, and bar clad in white oak, dark granite and blackened steel that clocks in at more than 60 feet long. “Oak is local, classic, easy to work with, not too dark and not too light, goes well with other colors, [and isn’t] exotic nor too full of itself,” says Mike Mora, a co-founder and principal at Heliotrope.
In the lounge area, geometric Oslo seating from Copenhagen’s Muuto (upholstered in Kvadrat’s dark gray wool and rayon mix) complements a tan leather banquette, while overhead hangs a colorful contemporary piece from Vancouver lighting design company Bocci. Lighting above the bar and peppered throughout the dining room consists of the cylindrical Tula pendant by XAL in black. To create optimal lighting schemes in all areas of Cortina, Heliotrope tapped Seattle-based lighting designer dePelecyn Studio to help source fixtures that would enhance the space both aesthetically and via the proper wattage levels.
For a bit of a departure from the dining room’s light and bright palette, Heliotrope chose Schumacher’s graphic Woodland wallcovering in the color Night to line the walls in the hallway leading to the restrooms, giving a subtle nod to the region’s dense forests.
“We want guests to feel like Cortina is timeless,” Stowell says. “Like it’s always been a part of downtown, and it always will be.”
Cortina, 621 Union Street, Seattle; ethanstowellrestaurants.com