“I love road trips. Flying to destinations is fun, but you miss all the stuff along the way—the small towns and pit stops and changing landscapes. Driving offers a full travel experience.”
mitsumi kawai Co-owner of Shika Provisions and Kuma Tofino, British Columbia
WHERE: Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon Written by JEN HAWK Photographed by Rob Leadley
GRAY ISSUE No. TWENTY-TWO
When she’s traveling, Mitsumi Kawai seeks out “places where your surroundings pull you in and capture you in the moment.” She’s found her Zen while perched on the cliffs of Big Sur, California; watching the ocean in her hometown of Bowen Island, British Columbia; and wandering the Painted Hills in central Oregon with her husband, Rob Leadley, on a recent road trip. The couple took the 10-day journey this past fall to decompress after the intensive work of launching their first restaurant, Shika Provisions, on Bowen. In conversations over campfires and on long drives and walks through the orange-hued hills, “it became clear where we wanted to focus our energy,” says Kawai, who decided to give up her law practice to become a full-time restaurateur. Renewed and reinspired, the couple swiftly opened their second restaurant, Kuma, in the hip surf town of Tofino. The restaurant’s interiors and menu—much like Kawai herself—draw equal inspiration from Japan and the Pacific Northwest. Both places “influence me to always look for beauty in nature and to keep designs simple and clean,” she muses. “It keeps me and my work rooted.” h
The DESIGN MAGAZINE for the Pacific Northwest.