Middle Eastern restaurants are often imagined to have design aesthetics that tend to be very dark, heavily patterned and somewhat cliché. The design for Bavel, by Studio Unltd, set out to challenge those conventions. The restaurant design embraces the influence of the regions from which the cuisine is derived, interpreting those ideas through the lens of its Arts District location. The worn, rather innocuous brick warehouse, which houses the space, served as a wonderfully textured canvas for the restaurant to evolve from.
Natural light was the first critical ingredient employed in order to create a bright and inviting atmosphere. This was addressed by constructing soaring sawtooth skylights on the roof which, coupled with storefront openings and clerestory windows, bathe the dining room in indirect northern light. The interior brick walls have been treated with a wash which evokes the textures of ancient Middle Eastern seaside villages; where wall materials show the age of centuries of different treatments depicting its evolution. The dining patio found its muse in the structural oddities found in the Middle East. It features several different materials, textures and features creating a “mash-up” of sorts of style through time embracing the evolution of a space as a theme.
The centerpiece of the design, is an extensive raceway of planters which hang just below the massive skylight openings. The greenery will spill from these to fill the voluminous ceiling area. The plants will be lit so that in the evenings, the daylight will give way to interesting shadow play on the perimeter walls reminiscent of Moroccan lattice work. Patterns evoking a Moorish feel, will be seen sporadically throughout the space from the flooring details and counter faces of the dining room to the restroom lanterns. The primary base color in the space is white with pops of color in tile, plaster and furnishings. The colors are also drawn from Casa Blanca, with vibrant turquoise, saffron and turmeric as well as brass highlights.