In the series, I Spy, we highlight unique perspectives, designs, furniture, architecture, and people. When so much of the design world can feel monotonous, we search for and share moments that make you look and think twice. Think of I Spy as your one-stop-shop for everything bold, different, and beautiful.
We came across the A&D firm Design Hound about six months ago when we learned about a restaurant project called The Grove. Design Hound graciously used our Sadie Chairs and Barstools in the design, but it was their masterful use of color and material that made us look twice. Throughout their portfolio, Design Hound has created spaces that not only make you want to visit, but allow you to picture yourself there. They excel in creating modern restaurant designs that are elevated yet comfortable and accessible. So, when I had the opportunity to chat with Design Hound’s lead interior designer, Allison Coon, I couldn’t wait to learn more.
AR: Tell me a little about yourself and Design Hound.
AC: Design Hound is based in Austin, Texas, and has been around five years. We’re a small firm of six people, five architects and one interior designer, which is me. We work on both residential and commercial architecture and design projects. Before Design Hound, I designed luxury senior living facilities.
AR: Where do you find inspiration for your design?
AC: Aside from usual places like the internet and design magazines, I look to Europe for inspiration. Generally, European designs aren’t afraid to take chances. They tend to have a level of sophistication or boldness you don’t see often in the states.
Some of Coon's worldly inspiration. Top: Duddell's Arts Club, Hong Kong. Bottom: Mathias Dahlgren Restaurant, Stockholm. Both designed by London-based Studioisle.
AR: Since Design Hound works on both residential and commercial design, I really wanted to get your opinion the “resimercial” trend—where commercial spaces are being designed to feel more residential.
AC: There is definitely a trend happening in commercial design where you see residential detailing; that could be anything from wood paneling to custom booths made to look like sofas. People want that same level of comfort that they get from their home in commercial dining spaces.
AR: Speaking of commercial design, we just came across some gorgeous photos of your latest project, The Brewer’s Table. Can you tell me a little about the project?
AC: The Brewer’s Table building is actually a Quonset hut that was converted into a the restaurant and brewery. It has indoor and outdoor seating as well as a mezzanine for private parties. The owners of the Brewer’s Table created a menu that features fresh, local ingredients. The overall design is meant to have an industrial feel, but we added pops of color with the seating and graphic tile on the bar.
AR: What do you think are the most important elements for restaurant design?
AC: Restaurant layout and how it’s going to be used 5-10 years down the road. It’s incredibly important to think about things like storage and the day-to-day activities of the staff. If I had the opportunity, I’d bring in as many people from the staff and get their input on their jobs and daily tasks. At the end of the day, restaurants need to function in order to succeed.
AR: Are there any restaurant design trends you would like to see die?
AC: The overly-done, heavy steakhouse feel. Or, stuffy fine dining—it’s just not my style!
Check back here in a couple weeks for a full look at The Brewer’s Table, Design Hound’s latest modern restaurant design.
1250 84th Street SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49315
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
Chicago, IL 60654