Location: Bellevue, WA     Size: 6,000 sf

Conceived over twenty years ago as an homage to the foods and cultures of Southeast Asia, Wild Ginger was due for an update. The challenge was how to transform the successful concept pioneered in the original, large-format restaurant and evolve it to meet the needs of current dining trends—both for those seeking a more intimate experience as well as satisfying the increased interest in happy hour culture. Rekindling the spirit of exoticism that inspired the original restaurant, the redesign (which includes a visual rebrand by Hornall Anderson) digs deep into the roots of the cultures that inspired it. The result is a stylistic blend that merges cultural influences with contemporary design to create a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere in which to celebrate food and friends.

“Understanding our client’s history was essential,” notes Kyle Gaffney, principal and co-founder of SkB Architects. “In order to know how to move forward, we had to know the past. We weren’t interested in creating a thematic experience. Our goal was to create something new—an authentic experience all its own.”

Occupying a deep, narrow 6,000-square-foot space, the challenge for the designers was finding a way to draw people to the back of the restaurant while ensuring that the entire venue provides a unique experience. The design solution is two-fold: showcase the activity inside by pulling the lounge/bar to the front of the restaurant, open up the interior to the sidewalk through a window wall spanning the front facade—pulls people in and lets energy spill out—and create a dining experience where every seat is special. “We wanted to reflect the life and vibrancy of the city…to bring the outside in and inside out,” says Gaffney.