It is Karen's 23rd Anniversary working for Persona Studios in the Hospitality Industry, specializing in restaurant design solutions. It is an especially poignant time since our Design Star, Richard McCooey has passed. But we see these next 20 years full of growth opportunities for hotels and restaurants worldwide. Because of our history and boutique size, we are uniquely positioned to step in and become an important part of your design team. And we are proud to be able to state that every one of our projects showed a great ROI for our client.
Our Designing Heritage and Philosophy
It was in 1960, only eight years after graduating from Georgetown University, that Richard began a very new life as a restaurateur in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, merely steps away from his Alma Mater. But first, these restaurants had to be envisioned, designed, built and decorated.
Richard McCooey was the visionary and he was fortunate to have two great professionals on board.
Richard Kelly was an American lighting designer and is considered to be one of the pioneers of architectural lighting design. He had already established his own New York-based lighting practice before enrolling at theYale School of Architecture from which he graduated. Kelly characterized the difficulty in selling lighting consultancy, then a new discipline, when he reflected: "There weren't lighting consultants then. Nobody would pay for my ideas, but they would buy fixtures." Eventually, his work in lighting design led him to coin the terms 'focal glow', 'ambient luminescence' and 'play of brilliants' to describe particular effects in lighting design. His later career also saw him lecture at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard Universities. After his death, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America established the Richard Kelly Grant in his name to encourage creativity in lighting among young people. Richard Kelly collaborated with the greatest architects of the twentieth century, including Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Eero Saarinen, and Louis Kahn. Such lighting projects include: David H. Koch Theater (then the New York State Theater), Glass House, Kimbell Art Museum, and the Seagram Building. -from Wikipedia
Raymond C. Brophy was the Commercial Realtor who made it all happen. A graduate of Georgetown University himself, Ray was only one year behind Richard. He was the perfect personality to handle Richard and his negotiations with the university. Ray was loyal to both Richard and to the work that he postponed his honeymoon. Jeannette, fortunately, was becoming a dear friend of Richard too! Their son Andrew, Richard's Godson, now carries on the family business. Their daughter Brenda and Andrew are both Georgetown grads.
Richard's clear and brilliant vision and his incredible talent for interior design were drawn from his own astute sense of taste and style. He filled the walls with original, historical, and rare pieces from his own private art collection. He decorated the interiors of the 1789, the Tombs, and eventually F. Scott's restaurants with antique furniture, impeccably. Finally, in 1962, Richard opened the doors to the 1789. So began his life operating his own restaurants: The 1789, The Tombs and F. Scott's in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
Amazingly, over twenty years later, Richard embarked on his second career. He sold his landmark restaurants to the great John Laytham, one of the owner's of the Clyde's Restaurant Group. Richard's design firm, Persona Studios, was born; creating and designing restaurants, resorts, hotels and clubs all across the U.S. and around the world since 1985. He met Karen in 1986, they married in 1990, and Karen joined the firm in 1994. Working with Kelly in those early years gave Richard insights and practical experience that he came to implement in his designs for others. Working with Richard for 20 years gave Karen lessons, insights, and experience bar-none.
We take our design philosophy from Richard McCooey, ever the philosopher raconteur, and it can be summed up in one word: "soul." It is this single purpose, bringing "soul" to every space, that permeates the Karen McCooey designing mission from beginning to end and differentiates us from all others.