Design delivers a unique space in a unique place
TAWLA | San Francisco
size: 2,400 sf
completion: June 2016
Shop! member cmnd+m contributed to artwork, design, electrical/lighting, furniture/upholstery, lighting design, screens/room dividers, solid surface, stone/tile, store fixtures, visual elements, wall treatment
ACHIEVING A BALANCED BLEND OF DESIGN ELEMENTS THAT REFLECT THE MISSION DISTRICT’S UNIQUE EXUBERANCE AND THE AUTHENTICITY OF EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN CULTURE, this restaurant combines traditional patterns and colors with simple, clean, contemporary forms.
Breaking a small footprint into small areas — each with its own personality — the design provides guests with different dining experiences and destinations that range from calm to whimsical. Giving each of these areas its own point of focus mitigates the long, narrow space’s compactness and conveys a sense of purposeful coziness.
Entering through a dramatic archway of custom octagram latticework, a natural stone communal table sits in the center. Diners can get a full view of the kitchen in the warm, whimsical nook. Private dining is available in a hidden, lit basement den. A living wall in the back area reinforces the restaurant’s commitment to fresh, local ingredients.
Nods to the restaurant’s name, which means backgammon in Arabic, include a patio area featuring backgammon boards built into the table surfaces. Thousands of 1-in. tiles also adorn half-walls in the bar and kitchen to create backgammon point patterns. Having an open kitchen is an apparent nod to Northern California.
Taking inspiration from dye vats used throughout the Mediterranean, vivid hues anchor the design while directing eyes upwards toward the busy bar and kitchen areas. These include rusts for floor tiles and placing turquoises on the walls and backgammon tile installations. Neutrals add a calming backdrop.
More elements include a wall-to-ceiling installation of 300 Turkish coffee cups from Istanbul. A latticework structure anchoring the back wall of the bar serves a wine rack, providing the protruding bottles with a dramatic frame. Copper wire fixtures with warm, welcoming Edison bulbs are draped, rather than mounted, to evoke feelings of an exotic market or a luxurious tent in the desert.
Interacting with the changing light, raised latticework creates dynamic morphing and weaving patterns as the sun moves across the sky and evokes the fractured light of a Mediterranean bazaar. Using shadows and light also establishes continuity between the main restaurant and private basement dining room.