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GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | Seattle

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | New York

Designing The Pearl | Lincoln Square | Bellevue, WA

Working with an extremely tight and confined team — I, along with others at Girvin | Seattle, as well as architect Dawn Clark, AIA LEED AP, and Robert Norwood, interior designer, began an extraordinary collaboration to create, design and build a restaurant, merely months ago.

And we started, here:


Perhaps the fastest track program for restaurant conception and design ever in the history of my career, it was a collective of design and restaurant intelligence of a remarkable scale — lead by the stellar founding talent: Bradley Dickinson and Mikel Rogers.

Interestingly enough, that crossing of paths in developmental expression for restaurant concepts was not the first time — with this duo, nor the consulting leader: Arnold Shain. I’d worked with Arnold on an entire grouping of restaurants (pretty much everything that the Schwartz Brother’s Restaurant Group had created), over the history of my career; and I’d worked with Mikel on Rosselini’s The Other Place; as well as Bradley on a spate of solutions for Daniel’s and Spazzo (though perhaps he might not have known about it, back then!).

Creating restaurants is perhaps the most holistically sensate brand design and experience proposition; in managing this kind of program, every element of sensorial cohesion and integration is reflected; the guest is the experientialist. Everything that they know, is experience that they have; it’s their reality that’s being made. You, as the designer, are merely purporting that visioning. And that’s where the win is — you are either connecting people into the story of your development, or you are not – they are either woven into the spinning of your comprehensive telling; or they are disconnected, frayed — and will likely not return. There’s the win; and there is, inherently, the loss. Tell the story well, they come, stay, share with others and the community is expanded.

Bradley and Mikel know very well what works and what doesn’t.

And being there, watching the training, the installations, the planning on the operational side of the table, it was clear that this will be a stunning success.

I’ve got stories to tell.

Our opening strategic development was, as with everything that Girvin does, collaborative.
And in the beginning, the opening work was to define what principles we stood on, as a team — what drives the heartbeat of the restaurant and what will define and create the pulsing vitality of its visioning. Working and exploring these themes, these patterns emerged:







We workshop the ideas. The BrandQuest®, the working charrette, the creative sessions — they are designed to drive out the best ideas — and more importantly, aligning vision and strategy with actionable outcomes — that designers can work against.

We publish them:

These lead to defined outcomes, and sequences of ideas (and ideals) that will generate baselines that will drive everything that we do — as a team.

We believe in the idea(l).

And the design, the visible language, begins to flow:

The pearlessence:

Exteriors: luminous pearled paints, pearl-orbs and lightshifters

mountings and rainbow illuminations:

meshed containments:

wall patterning and glass gradations:


Website pearlized:

There was, and is, a language of pearlescent character, that we can show, prelaunch (that’s tonight, in fact: 10.10.08.)

And if you study the opening, where the place was, noted above, we created pearlized solutions to dampen the earlier Trader Vic’s design lexicon. Frankly, we didn’t have a lot of money — so our play was in using extant materials — those in situ — and re-inventing them, to a new materiality — something newly pearl-like.

Black pearl(s):

Textures in transitions and newly formalized:






And how these interpretations are expanded, explored, implemented — and further resolved:





Surely there will be more to explore — since everything that has been documented is before the opening. But that’s coming — more, soon. Tonight!

In the interim, we’re thrilled to be a part of it all. And, for several of us, we’re sad not to be there, tonight…

Surely it will be a pearl of exquisite beauty. And like any pearl, you look in, and more is seen, scene…

tsg | nyc (and Robert, Mikel, Dawn, Bradley — and the bigger team, in training, behind!)