PROCESS CASE STUDY: When potential clients first come to us, they often ask “What is the process?”. Here we break it down by analyzing one of our favorite designs, Verbena (now Re-Verb) in San Francisco’s Russian Hill.

KEY BRAND CONCEPTS: We always start by listening and connecting  to your business vision, brand concept and mission. These ideas serve as pointers and clues to finding an appropriate “look and feel”, mood, and set of materials and color palettes. We also delve into your business and operations. We ask questions about your target customer, the food, average check and price point, time of service, length of the meal, how often your regular customer visits, your overall budget, and general *VIBE* and Experience.  What are you communicating to your customer by the choice of materials, or by the choice of a chair? An upholstered leather banquette sets a much different expectation for a dining experience than an industrial metal stool.

VERBENA  Key Brand Concepts:
“Art, Craft, Alive, Thoughtful, California. COOKING with a Sense of PLACE.”
  • Soil tasting with Lindcroft Farms
  • Heirloom Vegetable Varietals
  • Heritage Breeds
  • Fermentation
  • Preserving foods
  • House-made miso
  • Herb-infused cocktails


INTERIOR INSPIRATION: This can begin in many ways, but often clients have images or spaces with a certain vibe that they really love. It can be a childhood memory, a vacation spot, or a combination of restaurant spaces they’ve visited that resonates for them. We tease the look and feel, materiality, color palette and mood out of these initial ideas, combine them with the key brand concepts, and start creating a design mood board, unique to each client and space. There are no formulas, no cut and paste, and no “one-size-fits-all” in our process. We listen, suggest, and hone, until we hit upon the right combination of elements that resonate with you.

VERBENA’s  Interior Inspiration:

  • Neighborhood Bistro
  • Industrial
  • Classic, yet Modern
  • Warm Natural Materials
  • Approachable
  • Comfortable


SPATIAL SOLUTION: First, we do a deeper dive into what you already have.    What existing features do we want to emphasize and what do we want to downplay or camouflage? What are the proportions of the space, and do we need to “fix” them with architectural elements? We look at circulation, flow, sightlines and other plan considerations.  We analyze natural light, and sound.

Hierarchy is our best design friend.  We always create a sense of hierarchy in the space, to ground and orient customers and staff.  We formulate a primary vignette or create an architectural feature- this is the beginning of our spatial story. In the case of Verbena, our chef/client Sean Baker, inspired the “Pickle Wall”, which highlighted his love of fermentation in his vegetable-focused menu.

VERBENA’s  Spatial Solution:

  • Open space and fix circulation and flow by moving the bar from the middle to the side
  • Create a double height “Pickle Wall” as a design feature, and simultaneously disguising the new ADA compliant bathroom
  • Camouflage the existing back wall stair by painting it the same color as the back wall
  • Install acoustic ceiling panels to control sound
  • Create a lower ceiling plane with lighting over bar, to spatially balance the new tall tower element.




The space under an existing stair was converted to a custom wine display and bread station.

Verbena STRIP D



It’s not easy to compose seven pendant lights of varying heights and sizes, 13’-0” in the air. We composed them in relation to each other in plan, on the ground first, and marked the locations on the plywood panel. We then marked off heights in relation to each other. The final product looks effortless, right?

We also designed a custom pendant, in collaboration with Metro Lighting in Berkeley, to  lower the ceiling height at the bar and to balance out the volume of the tower structure. A 7’-0” cantilever required technical fabrication and structural knowledge. Thank you to Lawrence at Metro for your expert know-how!

Verbena STRIP E



A new ADA bathroom in the main dining space is transformed with a 2 storey high LED lit wall of Pickle Jars. Reclaimed tamarack, fir and sycamore boards were chosen for the wall.  Although it looks random, each board was drawn and sized to minimize cutting around the jar niches. We created a color coded sketch indicating board placement around existing openings.  Niches occur within the standard 2×4 framing, also saving in labor costs.

Verbena STRIP F

To see the full project ,visit the project page here.