Makoto Restaurant Vail

HBA San Francisco’s design for Makoto Vail fuses Japanese tradition with modern elements, featuring a wood-centric aesthetic, a striking Jacob Hashimoto artwork, and a seamless indoor-outdoor dining experience.

  • Year 2024
  • Type Restaurant,
  • Award-winning hospitality design firm HBA San Francisco has completed the design of Makoto Vail, the newest restaurant from acclaimed Chef Makoto Okuwa and the sushi master’s first restaurant in Colorado. The 110-seat restaurant is located within the Grand Hyatt Vail, a luxury ski-in/ski-out resort nestled along the banks of Gore Creek at the base of Vail Mountain.

    HBA San Francisco’s design reflects a dynamic synthesis of tradition and modernity with authenticity and a sense of place, where the heritage of Japanese interiors harmoniously combines with accents of wabi-sabi character and natural forms in a palette informed by Vail’s stunning natural landscape. Beauty is in the material of the all-wood aesthetic. Dark metal highlights the restaurant’s modern qualities, balancing warmth and simplicity within the clean interior architecture.

    At the entry, large shoji screens offer a filtered glimpse into the experience within. White oak envelops the bar and lounge space, establishing a feeling of mountainside calm. Illuminated screening elements at the ceiling diffuse a poetic rhythm of ambient light between wood slatting, while a suspended grid-like wooden structure contributes to the intimate ambiance. Limestone extends at the flooring beneath with a hammered-like finish that brings out the honest quality of the material.

    Sleek, dark metal at the bar wall underscores the showpiece at the center: a large-scale original work by artist Jacob Hashimoto. A Colorado native, Hashimoto is known for creating complex worlds from a variety of modular components, from bamboo-and-paper kites to model boats and AstroTurf-covered blocks, yet still remaining deeply rooted in traditional materials and Japanese handicrafts. Commissioned by Kevin Barry Art Advisory, Hashimoto’s work for Makoto Vail, a dynamic installation composed of paper and string, is an abstract nod to the surrounding Gore Range in the Rocky Mountains, embracing the wabi-sabi design narrative.

    The ceiling feature from the bar and lounge area continues into the main dining room. Slatted timber walls distinguish the spaces while maintaining sightlines for a fluid spatial sequence. An open kitchen with a sushi bar sits prominently on the right, where diners can view the theater of the restaurant. The bar face tile recalls the resilience found in nature in contrast to the polished stone countertop. Warm, leather-like upholstery is tailored with clean lines and curvilinear forms inspired by nature. Timber tabletops preserve a subtle live edge, a gentle gesture of tactile purity. Nano doors reveal the beautiful scenery beyond and provide access to an indoor-outdoor, temperature-controlled terrace for year-round dining.

    At the restaurant’s rear is a private dining room for dinners and gatherings of up to 10 guests. Sculptural lanterns overhead cast a soft glow when day turns to night. A shelving unit against a backlit shoji screen showcases a curated collection of pottery and ceramics.

    Design: HBA
    Art Consultant: Kevin Barry Art Advisory
    Photography: Noah Webb