image: Bird Dog, Palo Alto, CA. Architect: Studio Ren Architecture. Interior Design: Jamie Bush & Co.
Photo: Eric Wolfinger & Bernard Andre
'Behind Great Restaurant Design' Interview Series
How the Designers of 2016 Restaurant Design Winner Bird Dog Turned Challenges into Advantages
A substantial portion of the budget for Bird Dog, the Palo Alto located restaurant, was eaten up by infrastructure updates. But Studio Ren, the design team behind it, still managed to pull off a 2016 Restaurant Design Award. Here are their insights into the process, along with a little lowdown on a new project in their office. Hint: a medical marijuana dispensary.
How did the office get its first restaurant design commission?
Our first restaurant commission came from a repeat client. We first worked with this client on their home, we’ve since worked with them on an office tenant improvement, some retail projects and a restaurant. Big thanks to all our clients…what would we do without them?!
What most surprised you about designing Bird Dog? Or, what was the toughest challenge?
Budget was definitely the toughest challenge on Bird Dog. Much of it ended up being absorbed by replacing aged infrastructure. We had plumbing, mechanical and leaky roof woes. Not to mention the city required us to replace the sidewalk and add a street tree. The current state of the bay area real estate market isn’t empowering to the tenant. This forced us to be very judicious when it came to finishes and furnishings. We concentrated on making what we had shine and embellishing by nicely detailing simple materials. Luckily, limitations can be a good thing sometimes, they help you edit ideas. And I’ve always been a fan of Debussy’s statement that “Music is the space between the notes.”
What’s a current project and why are you excited about designing it?
We are lucky to have several great projects at the moment. One really compelling project we have on the boards is a medical marijuana dispensary. It’s a really interesting moment where dispensary owners are thinking more about the patient experience and becoming more savvy about design. The program requires the designer to balance aesthetics and flow with larger security and functional constraints. This is one of the nice things about our profession; we get to learn about how others live and work. Needless to say, the inner workings are fascinating.
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