If you dine out a lot in Edmonton, there's a good chance you've had a dining experience created by Joe Johnson and his team at Makespace design firm. The spaces for Alder Room, Ace Coffee Roasters, Da Capo, Tokiwa, Uccellino, Bar Bricco and Corso 32 were all overseen by Johnson.
Q: What does the process of designing a restaurant from concept to finished product look like?
A: We sit down with clients and get a sense of where they want to go and try and figure out a way to best portray them, the identity of what they want, in that space. We take a holistic approach to really do a branded experience which ensures that the vision is understood through both the physical space and the branded elements. It is truly a cohesive outcome. In most restaurants we work on, the chef is an owner. It’s nice that way because the restaurants are really based around the concept of food instead of a concept that’s more of a trend to attract a crowd.
Q: How does design contribute to the experience of the diner?
A: We hope, for the sake of our clients, it’s almost unnoticed. The space should be secondary [to the food] but you want it to be comfortable and you want it to be complimentary. Art is subjective, design is subjective. I think people may go into a space with the mindset of they will or won’t like it, hopefully they can see how it contributes to whatever the concept is, whatever the chef is trying to achieve.
Q: Why is it important for a restaurant to have thoughtful interior design?
A: It’s about what’s happening in the chef’s mind, and we ensure we’re not taking away from what they’re trying to achieve and really complimenting what it is they’re trying to do. Most of our spaces are fairly refined and minimalist, and get away from as much glitter and clutter as possible. We just want to let the environment and experience of what they’re producing speak for itself.
This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.