Q&A: Robby Perkins, creative director of Daniel Reed Hospitality and designer of Artillery
What are your favorite design elements in the space and why?
Artist Mary Hartman created a custom panel for the entrance that is incredible — a horse pulling a cart. It’s one of my favorite elements in the space. In general, because it is a smaller space, we could really do some impressive finishes and installations that might not make sense in a larger build out.
How does the space blend old and new? And to what extent was the design informed by the building’s history?
Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Justin Gunther shared his historic preservation thesis on the history of the building, which inspired the design, including the name Artillery. I did a lot of my own research on the history of the building as well. For example, the building was an automotive showroom at one point. I used that to inspire the design for the chartreuse velvet banquettes (to resemble the upholstery found in vintage cars). Every element from the largest to the smallest detail has a story and reason behind it. The paneling and horse reins in the back hallway leading to the restrooms nod to the horse stalls that used to occupy the back of the building when the cavalry kept the horses that pulled the artillery there.
Was there a founding inspiration for the design? Any challenges along the way?
I wanted to keep an even balance of historic and modern identity. I didn’t want people to think it was a historic speakeasy that had been there for 200 years. I didn’t want to create a super modern space inside a historic shell, either. Finding the middle ground was the challenge: juxtaposing the old and the new to highlight both.
What do people talk about the most?
Guests love the lighting and also the marble bar and book-matched slabs on the back of the bar. Everyone asks about the history of the building and the name.
Artillery is a very intentional space that invites conversation and sophistication. How does the design reflect these things?
The design is very luxurious. This is felt first through the materials used. Second, everything in Artillery is custom. Custom things are luxurious because they require additional time and attention to create. There’s the easy, stock way, and then there is the crafted, creative and artistic way. Every finish in Artillery was thought about over and over again to create a truly unique space.
Paint us a picture of what it’s like to take a seat in Artillery.
There are a lot of different types of seating. The idea is to create different experiences for returning guests. Maybe a two-top table is ideal for a date night with people-watching out the curved picture window onto Bull Street. On another evening out with friends, the custom tufted bench from Dixon Rye in Atlanta (inside the front door) is a group- friendly alternative for conversation. I always tell people the bar is the best seat in the house. It’s a stage for an incredible performance by our talented bartenders! Ian and Cal work to create cocktails as unique as the bar they serve them in. The process is as cool as the drink.
What makes Artillery stand out in Savannah?
Artillery is genuine. People can tell when you’re trying to trick them. I always say that we do not believe in gimmicks at Daniel Reed Hospitality. There are so many food and beverage concepts opening all the time, and you can create anything just about anywhere. Our mission statement includes: iconic, restored, landmark locations. We start there. The building is magnificent, it always has been. It just needed TLC and an operator willing to find the right fit for the space, with a consciousness of the history of the building. We love that we found a use for the building that lets more people experience and enjoy it! It doesn’t hurt that the drinks are incredible. We gave the bartenders one direction when we started: to source lesser-known liquors and educate the guests. Artillery is rare and unique so the offerings on the menu should be too.
Designer: Robby Perkins, creative director of Daniel Reed Hospitality
Contractor/builder: Carroll Construction, Savannah
Tile/flooring: Mike Adams Tile, Savannah
Marble: Creative Stone, Savannah
Bar/windows/doors: Forsyth Metal Works, Savannah
Custom tap: Micromatic
Banquettes: Sims Superior Seating, Atlanta
Lighting: Circa Lighting and Restoration Hardware
Furniture: Dixon Rye, Atlanta