15 Under 40: Ian Jones & Sarah Atkinson
Ian Jones is a restaurateur behind two of the city’s hottest concepts, Victory Sandwich Bar and Paper Plane. Jones is also a killer carpenter with a motorcycle habit. His Renaissance nature shines in the restaurants (which feature furniture he’s designed and built), as does the icon he uses as a creative filter: “Victory is the kind of place where Steve McQueen would have a beer, then go work on his motorcycle, and Paper Plane is where he’d take his girlfriend to dinner.” Speaking of girlfriends, Jones shares a studio with his, furniture designer Sarah Atkinson. This spring, he will reopen Victory in Inman Park and announce a new concept.
How did you get started in the restaurant business? I got into it in high school because it paid better than my friends with hourly gigs. I stayed with it in various positions and types of places through college, and really started to love it a few years later.
What would you recommend to first time diners at Paper Plane and Victory Sandwich Bar order? At Paper Plane I’d start, or finish, with one of our cocktails. And you’ve got to try the steaks. We have a changing line-up of amazing cuts, and you simply can’t get that type of thing around Decatur. Victory is all about the Jack and Coke slushies. They sound a bit odd, but they’re the perfect drink for a hot summer night.
Why did you choose Decatur for your two ventures? When we first came to Decatur, we really did it as an expansion. We knew that it had a great food scene, but also that it was somewhat removed from Atlanta. We think both of our restaurants have filled some gaps that help round out the options for diners and drinkers. We feel very fortunate that the Decatur community has embraced us, regardless of our goofball antics.
You’ve designed some of the furniture pieces in the restaurants. Is design also a passion of yours? I’ve always been driven by design, and I think it still informs many of my decisions. In my opinion the most difficult thing about it is finding an audience, which can be so subjective. It’s really cool to be able to build something and see it’s immediate impact, and with our restaurants I get the opportunity to do that on a continuous basis.
We hear you’re working on a new project. Can you give us any details? Well some things around here are very hush-hush, but I can tell you that we’ll be re-opening Victory in Inman Park this summer, with another project planned for a fall opening. It’s definitely going to be a big year for us and we couldn’t more excited!
How did you get started with furniture design? I’ve been creating furniture since I was just a kid. First with old cardboard boxes, then when I got a little older my dad would help me build things with left over pieces from projects around the house. I received my BFA degree in Interior Design, but it quickly became clear that my real passion was designing furniture. I get a real sense of accomplishment seeing a tangible result for my efforts, and the fact that other people get to use these things in there everyday surrounds makes me so very happy.
What type of client does your furniture appeal to? I think the best way to describe my pieces are transitional Mid-century. I feel that they have a broad appeal. My pieces have been placed in homes and commercial spaces all over the country. Some clients are more traditional but looking to add a little fun and diversity for their spaces. Others are true modernists. I love that my furniture can cross the great divide.
Anything new you’re introducing this year? I have been slowly leaking out new designs this year. One is the Dove coffee table. It boasts 2″ thick acrylic, partially inset in solid walnut with over sized dovetail joinery. I believe that when something is made properly, the craftsmanship shines and the construction details should add to the piece, not take away from it.
Who would you love to collaborate with? I remember learning about Ray Eames in college, and becoming instantly infatuated with her. Her outlook on design, combining style and function without over-designing, was really inspiring. Her mind never stopped. I suppose I fancy myself a problem solver and she would be an amazing partner to solve a problem with.
Where is your inspiration coming from right now? I think my inspiration always, in at least part, comes from the materials. I find something, fall in love and think how could this be highlighted in a piece of furniture.
Where can we find your products? I show everything on my ever-updating website greyfurniture.com. I am currently to-the-trade only. I have a rep here in Atlanta that goes out to design and architecture firms to present all our products. I currently have some custom lighting pieces in the 2014 Kips Bay Showhouse in Manhattan. The talented designer Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria provided sketches and I was able to fabricate them. I love partnering with other design professionals and creating one-of-a-kind pieces.