Designer Suzanne Humphries creates a coastal feel for husband’s Birmingham seafood spot
Automatic Seafood & Oysters chef Adam Evans is driven by his love of the ocean and to serve the freshest, most local, sustainable seafood he can source. Meanwhile, his wife, interior designer Suzanne Humphries, translates that passion into the design of their Birmingham restaurant, set inside a circa-1940s warehouse. Although it’s hours from the nearest ocean, the space evokes the coastal charms of the Gulf.
Both Humphries and Evans are native Alabamians. After spending years working in cities from Atlanta to Copenhagen, they were eager to come home and create a welcoming space—one that hits all of the senses. “The design sets the tone and gives the guest an idea of what they’re about to experience before they take a bite or take a sip of anything,” she says. This being her first solo project, she worked closely with Evans to align the mission of the restaurant with the design. The result? A Gulf-inspired classic, Americana feel that embraces the building’s original architecture.
One of the best spots in the dining room is a corner near the bar. Meant for larger groups, it’s anchored by a large, round table punctuated by a lazy susan (made by an Amish woodworker in southern Tennessee) for optimal sharing. The dining area is framed by windows that were recovered from another 1940s-era warehouse in the town where Evans grew up, allowing guests to not only see out onto bustling 5th Avenue, but also for passersby to get a glimpse of the comfortable, elegant setting inside.
Breuer Cesca Chairs
This iconic, mid-century style chair was a must for this space, says Humphries. “The cane back hits the coastal-beach vibe while the bent chrome frame designed by Marcel Breuer takes you to the time period in design history that aligns with the original architecture of our midcentury warehouse.” ($159 each; seatsandstools.com/breuer)
Palm Wallpaper and Drapes
For the restaurant’s private dining space, Humphries was after a lush and moody vibe, which this print from La Palma* by Catherine Martin by Mokum accomplishes in spades. The rich hues and banana illustrations give the room an exotic feel. ($326 per roll; jamesdunloptextiles.com)
Natural Dome Pendant
Humphries suggests fitting this Currey and Company Plantsman Pendant with a mirrored reflective bulb for a beautiful golden light to illuminate the food.($870; lightingplus.com)
Blue Channeled Leather Bar Stools
Custom designed by Birmingham craftsman Grant Trick, the blue barstools at Automatic were patterned after boat captain seats for the ultimate coastal feel. For a similar coastal hue, Homary’s counter-height bar stool is finished in tufted blue velvet ($215; homary.com)
Evans’ off-time pleasure is dim sum, which inspired the couple to add a custom-built lazy susan to their communal table. He encourages sharing around your own table with this version, made with hand-milled walnut by Vermont woodworks company J.K. Adams; you can also order in maple and ash driftwood. ($85; jkadams.com)