Cho - Chorito - Chosabi ... a new asian eatery experience.

XxThis past fall Design Shop had the pleasure of working with some exciting new clients – Cho Venevongsa and Tracy Chen, from the Wasabi group. The couple wanted to open a new restaurant concept that focussed on delicious and healthy grab-and-go Asian food. Luckily for us we had been frequenting Wasabi (A. Lot.) and had a common friend who thought we would be a good fit for the business savvy couple - yay for us!!

After meeting with Cho and Tracy and understanding their business strategy, we got straight to work to bring their eatery dreams to design reality! Our goal for Chosabi’s overall brand was to create a fresh and urban look and feel that spoke to our owners personalities and the diversity of the menu to be.  We had to ensure their brand touched every layer of their business and spatial experience. From the logo we created, to the koi fish concept we developed, details on the coffee cups, window vinyls, custom tables, new millwork - each detail was considered for maximum branding impact.

Brilliantly located and with noteworthy neighbours (Bronuts and King + Bannatyne) the new Chosabi space showcased an amazing sightline looking onto the old market square. It was this view we intended to take full advantage of when it came to our space planning and design detailing.We created a window counter seating zone, which provided a comfortable spot to enjoy lunch and watch the hustle and bustle of King Street beyond. Great for solo eats, laptop storage and people watching!

Next, we focussed on our feature wall that looked onto the square. We designed a custom banquette bench that was clad in a bright plaid fabric that framed a neutral, charcoal animal print upholstered seat and back. Seating experience #2!

While researching concept images for the Chosabi design, we found a fantastic inspiration photo of a quirky little restaurant situated in South Africa. In love we fell and we quickly became obsessed with the restaurants mix and match furnishings and large scale, sketch-like cow image that took over the wall. Clearly a cow was an ill fit for Chosabi, but a diving koi fish fit the bill. Once the concept was established, we immediately sought out Pat Lazo – a local graffiti artist to put his brilliant twist and work his magic on the image!

babel restaurant - inspiration photo - chosabi.jpg

We knew we had to include a large family style table as that concept fit with what Cho and Tracy had described (seating experience #3).  We chose an eclectic mix of chairs and stools to bring in a playful touch. All the tables were custom designed and fastened to ornate iron bases for an extra layer of detail. Again playing with scale, we specified 3 oversized black pendants to hover above the large family table anchor the space.

The restaurant space came with exposed concrete flooring which we essentially left untouched with the exception of a sealing treatment. The richness and texture of the floor worked perfectly with Chosabi's fresh/urban concept.The washrooms too have personality but without breaking the bank. We simply wrapped a black accent paint colour from sink wall to ceiling and by pairing it with eclectic lighting and plumbing fixtures.The palette throughout the space remained simple and pure. We used a charcoal / black colour paired with a crisp white to not distract from the other colourful details and mural wall feature.

We called for the ceiling to be dropped in the area opposite the mural and framed in the two large coolers. This detail helps to give the illusion of the equipment was integrated and built in rather than an afterthought and purchased item. We also designed scriptive neon signage (by the Neon Factory) which is specified to be installed above these coolers … This is a detail that is still on Cho’s to do list ;). We can't wait to see these bright lights up!

Finally, over at the kitchen, prep area and guest ordering zone, we called up for a dropped drywall bulkhead to balance the space and provides a delineation between public and private areas. Simple white subway tile along the back wall beyond the order counter provides a crisp and clean point of interest while still respecting the function of that particular area: food preparation.

The front face of the order counter was a custom design detail calling for Russian plywood in varying widths with 1/2" reveals in between. This was a low cost detail with high reward in function and interest. The plywood slats run into our “splurge moment” - a low wall clad in shiny black hex tile for a big time pop. The counter + slat wall detail, which serves the public has a barrier free section that satisfies building code, is seamlessly integrated without screaming barrier free. 

If you haven't popped in yet - make sure you do! 

#chosabi #designshop #interiordesign #exchangedistrict #patlazo

The Design Shop Girls


Bathrooms on budget with colossal personalities !!

We all have been told repeatedly that the most involved, expensive and pay it forward renovations for the home are the kitchen and bathroom spaces. But what is rarely spoken of, is that if planned creatively and proactively (wink, wink.. hire a seasoned INTERIOR designer), your renovation can stay on track and you can avoid bankruptcy, foreclosure and emptying your wallets !!

So, with the above statement said, How the h*ll do you update said spaces while still infusing massive personality and innovative design moves into your new and improved space !! Brilliant question you / we ask ...

Here are a few steps in the process that will keep you and your designer on track with budget vision and timeline...

1. BUDGET -  TALK ABOUT IT! Don't be afraid to communicate this integral baseline to the entire project. Do your homework. Think hard about your needs (and wishes) for the space. What are your expectations? What's your vision? What is your timeline (are you securing an interior designer at the 11th hour and rushing everything)? Are you satisfied with your current floor plan and layout? Is there anything in the existing space you are open to salvaging? And, on and on.... Don't worry, it's not that daunting of a task and your designer will help facilitate this dialogue... But the end result will help your designer know if your expectations are indeed in line with the budget, or if you are completely out to lunch... Design Shop will say this politely of course .

2. Keep as many mechanical, plumbing and electrical locations in place. Every move of said system can add dollar bills to the final construction costs. Wee moves or slight adjustments are typically not the biggest deal, but a complete reconfigure of the plan WILL add up.

3. Concept - the design story!!  Yeah, yeah... the perceived "hooey hooey" part of the design process, but this is where and when the magic happens with the overall vision of the design (please don't use the word theme - a decorator may be ok with this "term", but an Interior Designer will throw up in their mouth.. Just a heads up!).

The concept behaves like a thesis statement when writing a paper. It filters ideas, decisions and the body, ensuring the overall "story" is consistent and uniquely yours!
When it comes to staying on budget it allows you and your designer to choose the appropriate finishes and materials, fixtures, etc., that are congruent but most importantly we can make decisions about when,  where and how much you can splurge with your selections! There is always a way, you just need to have the right brain power to put this creativity to work.

4. Form should always follow function, specifically in a bathroom space, and one should allow for a variety of tasks to be performed in this multifunctional space. Your designer may ask you seemingly odd questions... ie: (sorry Ben Hopper), do you shave your legs in the shower? Show us how? These question may lead to your designer to suggesting a bench detail or an elongated or segmented alcove in your shower wall. Maybe one alcove storage opening is intended for shampoo and whatnot storage and maybe another segment is perfectly placed for you to prop your foot up to shave your legs!! If you are going custom - truly make it yours.

Enough Design Shop verbage for today... Now it's your turn, let us know what you think of our blog entry. Share, comment or hit the cute little red heart !!

The Design Shop Girls