Brooklyn’s Eavesdrop is full of custom-designed elements that support active listening with friends

Lost in Music

In realizing Eavesdrop, a new listening roomrestaurant, and cocktail bar in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, co-owner Dan Wissinger wanted to introduce New York to the historical lineage of Japanese listening bars, which began in the 1950s. To do so, he enlisted sound designer, and now co-owner, Danny Taylor for the job. “As much as possible, I wanted to use the idea of what the physical form of sound is,” Taylor said when describing the main design goal for space. Sound is “obviously not a visual medium, so since there isn’t anything to look at you have to create something that people can associate with, even if they don’t know a lot about sound.” To do this, Taylor drew on his background in designing audio systems for clubs and recording studios to create a sumptuous wooden interior composed of handmade elements, each strategically located to create different ambient levels of sound throughout the venue.

The custom bar comprises a grid of reflective mirrors and wooden ribs embedded with LEDs. (Maxime Lemoine)

At Eavesdrop, which opened in March, materials were chosen carefully to help visually connect people to the moving sound waves that surround them. Those materials include birch plywood (commonly used for speaker construction), white poured-concrete terrazzo on the handmade bars and furniture pieces, cork (which offers some sound absorption), and flat surfaces. Custom pieces abound, including a wall of little mirrors gridded at variable depths opposite the DJ station, which exhibits light-scattering characteristics similar to a disco ball. This reflective wall breaks up the sound waves that emanate from two large Swiss cheese–like Tom Danley SH60 speakers.

The 36-seat bar serves craft cocktails, natural wines, and small plates. (Peter Fisher)