Text description provided by the architects.
The client is a well-known, award-winning chef, who deliberately chose a developing neighborhood– rather than opting for downtown, he aimed to provide a location for new visitors. The client named the restaurant Tomo after his grandmother, Tomoko, and the Japanese “tomodachi”, meaning ‘friend’. Friendship and familial connection is a throughline in how the restaurant approaches both its service and its place in a developing area south of Seattle.
The design team understood it was tasked to create not only a restaurant, but a destination–to be a spotlight on an often overlooked place. Since opening, the restaurant has outperformed projections, with a booked calendar bringing hundreds of people to the neighborhood daily, and a rolling waitlist topping a thousand.
The team created a fine dining experience that is refined but not extravagant.
Using layers of texture, the architecture is demure and humble, letting the food be the center. The site is narrow and deep, posing a risk of feeling cold, confining. As an antidote, warm wood is a centerpiece of the space, and referencing shou sugi ban, much of the interior wood has been stained a deep ebony.
Oak shingles run the length of one side, and contrast the strict geometry of the vertical ash slats wrapping the opposing walls. The mingling wood creates an understated, monochrome texture that is striking and intimate.
Most of the lighting was directly integrated into the architecture–felt, but not seen. A statement is made with the 80-foot, wood-clad linear fixture tracing the entire length of the restaurant.
Long and inviting, the experience references an evening in one the endless alleyways of Japanese cities. Nearly every piece of the interior is local–designed and fabricated five miles away by the team–bringing down the carbon footprint, and amplifying the local impact of the project..
Tomo (Deleted) Gallery