Samara, designed by Mutuus Studio and located in Seattle, Washington, is designed to connect guests to nature and the local region through the material selection, color palette, and the wood-fired grill placed within the dining room.

The restaurant takes its name, Samara, from the winged fruit of maple trees that twirls like a helicopter. That attention to nature find its counterpart in the design of the restaurant. Inside, rich earth tones dominate, bringing to mind a tranquil wooded understory. “The design brief,” notes Saul Becker, a Principal with Mutuus Studio, “was to create a small, sophisticated, and intimate neighborhood corner bistro. The menu is focused on locally-sourced and environmentally-friendly heritage breed animals and produce. Central to the restaurant is the multi-level, wood-fueled grill and oven.”

The dining area opens directly to the wood-fired grill, ensuring that guests have a front-and-center seat to the preparation of their food and serving as a not-so-subtle reminder of the comfort we feel in gathering together around a fire.

Dark-stained oak paneling and wainscoting wrap a portion of the space and the bar front, while the balance of the space features a section of the building’s original firewall that was revealed during construction. The firewall is composed of framing timber turned on its side, and now provides a subtle homage to the cooking method of choice.

Seating for 38 is handled through a mix of seating groups featuring anti-tip tables topped with wood recycled from old piers, and a leather banquette. A chef’s counter, finished in soapstone, seats an additional six guests. Copper cladding wraps the area above the grill features a rich patina, and hand-made Danish brick, embedded with fused glass, surrounds the grill to create a delicate dance of firelight.

Throughout the interior, custom-designed-and-fabricated lighting fixtures serve as important touchpoint, bringing the spirit of fire into the lighting scheme. The chef’s counter and food prep areas feature a combination of 4-inch diameter Cinder lights and 2-inch diameter Ember lights, both made from knurled copper pipe and a custom patina. Banquette lighting is provided by a custom-designed rotating arm fixture dubbed Mallet (also featuring a knurled and patinated finish), that enables lighting to swing and adapt to table groupings. Translucent micarta sconces, made of linen and resin, line the wall. The washroom features a light fixture made from a spent artillery shell, the body perforated and coated with reflective glass beads to create a subtle, twinkling light effect. Existing concrete floors were given a subtle stain and then sealed. New windows, and an exterior awning round out the improvements.

Design: Mutuus Studio
Design Team: Kristen Becker, Saul Becker, Jim Friesz, Danielle Farrell
Contractor: Plumb Level
Photography: Kevin Scott