Starting from Scratch - Design Bureau


Starting from Scratch

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Photos by Matthew Fromboluti 

Featured Company: O-X Studio

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Project Type: Restaurant

Project Name: No Thai! 

O-X Studio was tasked with creating a cohesive identity out of a space that was previously “just paint on drywall,” says Brian Kim, owner of No Thai! restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The studio infused a new life into the 1,600-square-foot fast-casual restaurant, using contrasting industrial concrete and soft bamboo and adding small, quirky details.

Design Bureau: What detail captures the restaurant’s new identity the best?

Brian Kim: It may be silly to reference the push-plates to the restrooms as best representing the project's aesthetic, but they do. The design mixes in a bit of whimsy with the clean forms— something that the owners feel is a part of the No Thai! brand. For the door push-plates, we laser-cut stainless steel with the words “girls” and “boys” in gigantic letters. It is indicative of the playful little details that we tried to mix into the overall design to capture the attitude of the restaurant.

DB: Are there other elements that stand out as particularly well designed?

BK: The understated point-of-sale and pick-up counters were originally designed as one element, but we separated them for programmatic flexibility, and they ended up setting the tone for all the horizontal elements in the space. LED lights are hidden, adding a soft light that contrasts with the concrete.

DB: What kinds of effects did the use of contrasting materials create?

We are most proud of the transitions between simple materials and the three-dimensional forms of the concrete with the bamboo and resin panels, especially at the concrete point-of-sale counters and the seating countertop. There is a certain spot where the concrete countertop meets the bench, and the concrete turns downwards along the side of the bench. The concrete fabricator did a great job in pouring the corner so there is no joint in the concrete, and the result is that the concrete looks like it is a very soft material, folding down against the bamboo. It is a very clean detail to resolve a rather messy situation.

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