In the 21st Century, it’s not enough for a luxury carmaker to only make luxury cars. The modern car brand needs to embody a sophisticated design/technology/affluence philosophy where fine automobiles are merely the most obvious expression. In addition to making cars, for instance, Porsche and Aston Martin are inspiring residential high-rises in Miami; Mercedes-Benz is applying its style and engineering expertise to a futuristic motor yacht; and Bentley Motors is selling couches and beds wrapped in diamond-stitch leather and trimmed in polished burl walnut, just like the dashboard of your Mulsanne. Lexus, in contrast, is taking a more communal approach to brand-building. In its Intersect by Lexus clubhouses — the company calls them “cultural spaces” — its values play out in real time through art installations, live performances, and inventive dining experiences. This week, Intersect opened in New York City, in a three-story, 16,500-square-foot former meat market on West 14th Street.
To style the space’s expansive interior, Lexus called on Masamichi Katayama, the founder of Japan’s Wonderwall design group, the team behind Nike’s dazzling flagship store in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood and the moody Ozone bar atop the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong — not to mention the two other Intersect by Lexus spaces, in Tokyo and Dubai. For the Manhattan location, there’s a retail space at street level; along with a curated library, a public gallery with an ever-changing mix of art, artifacts, and design concepts; and a groovy minimalist café with an under-counter coffee-brewing system from Modbar.
The second floor presents an upscale cocktail bar with a circular counter done in black marble, stainless steel, and leather (from a Lexus, natch), and a restaurant dominated by a commissioned painting by Berlin-based artist Ryu Itadani. Managed by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (Manhatta, Union Square Café), the restaurant features a revolving global chef-in-residence program that will bring fresh culinary leadership to the kitchen every four to six months, and the open-concept kitchen gives diners a chance to see these chefs do their thing. Chef Gregory Marchand kicks things off, bringing to New York diners a taste of his acclaimed Frenchie Restaurant in Paris and Frenchie Covent Garden in London.
The top floor, finally, is a private gallery space, designed to accommodate a gamut of cultural happenings — art installations, film screenings, discussions, and performances.
What you can’t do at Intersect by Lexus, notably, is buy a Lexus; the space is entirely about embodying the carmaker’s serene vibe and its devotion to takumi artisanship—and to celebrating omotenashi, a term that refers to a uniquely Japanese approach to exceptional hospitality — the relentless quest to anticipate guests’ needs before they arise.
Visit Intersect by Lexus at 412 West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District. Starting in December, the restaurant will serve lunch seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The first-floor café is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.