Head to 1960s Japan via AvroKO-Designed Restaurant in Chicago's West Loop

AvroKO—the hospitality design firm with serious muscle—expands its growing empire with an inaugural project in Chicago, Momotaro. Here's Dwell's take on the one-of-a-kind restaurant interior.
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AvroKO—run by partners Greg Bradshaw, Adam Farmerie, Kristina O'Neal, and William Harris—handles all elements of design for a client, from graphics to interior design to lighting, and even menus. Their entry into the Chicago design comes via Momotaro, a massive izakaya-style Japanese restaurant in the city's former warehouse-packed West Loop district.

Adam Farmerie, one of AvroKO's four partners, outlines the aesthetic influence for the space: "All of us have been spent a good amount of time in Tokyo and Kyoto, and they are cities that would take many decades to truly understand and absorb, even at a surface level. The subtleties in the cultural shifts of the post WWII era are still present there though, and we were interested in studying and re-interpreting the physical manifestations of that narrow swath of Japanese history."

Momotaro Chicago
820 W Lake Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607

"The ground floor of Momotaro channels the spirit of a Tokyo office space of the 1950’s and 60s," explains AvroKO partner William Harris, "where the salaryman spent his days, with an izakaya on the lower level that's inspired by yokocho: the back alleys that sprang up in Tokyo as post-war black markets."

Partner Greg Bradshaw explains AvroKO's design process: "Concept development is our initial work phase and likely the most important one. In this phase we collaborate a good deal with the client, sketch out plans and general imaginings of the space, and attempt to lock down how the space will truly feel before we get into the technical detail of construction documents. Our ideas influence everything from the interior, to the logo, to the tabletop."

AvroKO worked with Boka Restaurant Group on Momotaro, the design firm's first-ever project in the Windy City. For a reprieve from the dark woods and polished luster of the dining room, take a break in the blue-and-white tile-lined bathroom area. It pays homage to Japan's history of ceramic production, while at the same time, says partner Kristina O'Neal, "We were inspired by an era of Japanese history called the Economic Miracle, a period of time right after World War II in which the Japanese embraced a number of western ideas to rebuild their economy."


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