Our design for Mourad was based upon taking elements of traditional Moroccan design and abstracting them in a modern interpretation. Just as Chef Mourad Lahlou takes traditional Moroccan flavors and uses them as the inspiration for his cuisine, we sought to design a Moroccan-inspired restaurant that reflected his contemporary approach to cooking. Circulation through rooms rather than along edges, fabric ceilings, mosaic tilework, a mixture of grand and intimate spaces, perforated metalwork, a patchwork of reclaimed Moroccan carpets, and twinkling lights all evoke memories of Marrakesh. Even the root-ball entry sculpture references an uprooted tree Olle and Mourad saw in the flood zone of the Atlas Mountains. So the design is personal – memories of a trip that the two took through Morocco – looking for ways to evoke Mourad’s childhood recollections, while at the same time providing him with a stage that captures his unique expression of Moroccan food. And yet we also tried to create a San Francisco restaurant, one that acknowledged the beautiful bones given to us in the old 1920 Pacific Telephone tower. We exposed the rawness of that shell – the brick, the granite, the concrete, and the steel were all left unadorned, and they provide a wonderful textural and finish contrast to the new work that we inserted into the historic framework. We hope to have created a restaurant that captures Morocco and San Francisco, a space that celebrates old and new, tradition and innovation, and in the end enhances the extraordinary food that Mourad creates.
Photos by: Ryan Hughes, K M Dale Tan