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Go for the Food, Enjoy the Design CALGARY RESTAURANTS CAN LOOK AS GOOD AND INTERESTING AS THE FOOD TASTES by Richard White

When it comes to shaping a city, architects (building and landscape) and artists (public art, muralists) get the lion’s share of the media and public attention, both good and bad. However, interior designers play an important role, too, especially when it comes to restaurant design. After all, you probably only glance at a building or public artwork for a minute, maybe less, but you are in a restaurant for an hour or more.

While some argue a well-designed restaurant doesn’t distract from the food and conversation, I say “bah hamburg!” Good restaurant design has numerous eye-catching components – features like a cool mural, a quirky bathroom, funky artwork, unique furniture or creative use of materials – all common conversation starters. To make my point, I chose seven Calgary restaurants I believe combine great design – all by Calgary designers – and reflect Calgary’s personality, i.e. youthful, colourful and playful.

YELLOW DOOR BISTRO 119 - 12th Avenue SW Yellow Door at Hotel Arts is a great example of creating fun eye candy. Full disclosure: yellow is my favourite colour. Carl and Andrea Raimondi from Ingenium Designs created a space full of “delightful surprises,” the intent, according to Fraser Abbott, Director of Business Development at Hotel Arts. Beginning with the human-sized horse with lampshade on its head to the plastic, Lego-like chairs, this place is full of surprises. The colour yellow pops up everywhere – chairs, window shades and yes, the yellow door at the 12th Ave SW entrance. Yellow Door remains as fresh and playful as when it opened.

OEB 222 - 5th Avenue SW John Gilchrist very fittingly describes OEB’s downtown location’s interior as “yolky” in his CBC review, others might think of it as an “eggs gone wild” theme. The entire room is adorned with yolk yellow and egg white elements. And the huge, egg-shaped booths are a modern twist on furniture designer Arne Jacobsen’s famous 1958 Egg chair. Designed by Hribar Design Group, the interior has a definite mid-century feel with a contemporary twist, mixing uncluttered and sleek lines with geometric forms, strange juxtapositions and bold use of colour. The result: a cheerful and charming atmosphere. Overall, the design creates a visual vibrancy that mirrors the vitality of a packed restaurant at breakfast or brunch.

HOME & AWAY CALGARY KITCHEN 1331 - 17th Avenue SW I love this place because it focuses mostly on local sports history. It’s not a cookie cutter sports bar that could be anywhere in North America. Sarah Ward, one of Calgary’s busiest restaurant designers, was able to access and recycle the hardwood floor from the Deer Run Community Centre gym. The floorboards were installed randomly so the colourful basketball, volleyball and badminton markings pop out everywhere, creating an after-the-ticker tape-like parade atmosphere. The feature wall, covered with 50 vintage skateboards from California, is clever, given it’s located a few blocks from Shaw Millennium Park, home of one of the world’s largest public skate parks. The subtle use of old trophy figures as tap handles is simply brilliant.

BRIDGETTE BAR 739 - 10th Avenue SW Bridgette Bar is divided into three rooms – the bar, the living room and the kitchen/dining room. Overall, the décor is an eclectic mix of artifacts, everything from two motorcycles to a large Chris Cran psychedelic artwork. Many of the pieces are the personal property of Victor Choy, one of the owners who worked with Kelly Morrison of Frank Architecture to create Bridgette’s whimsical design. The living room has an inviting mid-century modern feel with its oval teak coffee table, wood accented chairs and retro hanging fireplace, oh-so popular in the ‘70s. The most puckish artifacts are the many macramé pieces that adorn the dining room. As they say, “everything old is new again.”

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2018

City Palate May June 2018  

The Flavour of Calgary's Food Scene since 1993 - The Wine & Beer Issue

City Palate May June 2018  

The Flavour of Calgary's Food Scene since 1993 - The Wine & Beer Issue