The architecture and interior design firm serves up design visions of high-tech, high-concept and high-touch dining experiences

William Duff Architects (WDA), a California-based architecture and interior design firm, recently completed projects for clients that include Alaska Airlines, the sixth largest airline company in North America; restaurant industry innovator, Local Food Group; Back of the House, whose concept-driven restaurants are popular San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood spots; and hospitality management company, Brick x Brick.

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KAIYŌ Rooftop: The bar is the focal point and features a custom-designed metal screen that frames the shelving behind the bar. Vibrant green handmade tile, a luminescent quartzite bar top and woven light fixtures complete the tropical look.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

Founded 90 years ago, as McGee Airways, and headquartered in Seattle in the state of Washington, Alaska Airlines tapped WDA to upgrade its passenger lounge at San Francisco International Airport where Duff, along with WDA retail practice leader Jonathan Tsurui, have completed more than 30 airport amenities projects at all four terminals, including British Airways' Futures Lounge which features a luxurious private dining room. Similarly to the British Airways project, WDA realized the Alaska Airlines lounge in keeping with the company's established design guidelines and brand standards. For Alaska Airlines, this meant approachable, branded spaces, each one anchored on a specific guest experience: “Come In,” “Take a Breath,” “Cut Loose” and “Help Yourself.”

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Alaska Airlines Lounge at SFO: At Alaska Airlines’ new lounge at San Francisco International Airport, visitors are welcomed into a reception area framed by a sculptural interlocking slatted wood wall.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

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Alaska Airlines Lounge at SFO: An innovative vapor fireplace feature anchors the gathering space.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

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Alaska Airlines Lounge at SFO: New hospitality touches include new furniture and finishes, glass pendant lighting and pops of color to reinforce the Alaska Airlines brand.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

For the newest location of foodie favorite Super Duper, founded in San Francisco in 2010, WDA similarly worked with existing brand guidelines, including signature iconography, bold orange accents, classic "diner" subway tiles and a rough-hewn wood accent wall. The fast casual restaurant's ethos of "fast food burgers, slow food values" extends to staying local; working with family farms as well as designers, sign painters and artisans in the region.

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Super Duper Laurel Village: The newest location of the locally-owned restaurant company sits on a prime corner location at a small, upscale shopping center in San Francisco.
Photo credit: Mariko Reed

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Super Duper Laurel Village: Floating wood frames suspended from the ceiling create a sense of intimacy in the high-ceilinged dining area. A rough-hewn wood accent wall brings in additional visual warmth and completes the brand character within the space.
Photo credit: Mariko Reed

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Super Duper Laurel Village: The fast casual restaurant features the brand’s signature iconography and bold orange accents. The design features classic “diner” subway tiles, and crisp white quartz waterfall counters with dark gray Corten steel accents.
Photo credit: Mariko Reed

Meanwhile, for Local Food Group, Tsurui and the WDA team adapted a design approach that allowed function to determine form, as the company morphed its branding for its pioneering micro-food hall, Local Kitchens. WDA had helped the company develop their proof of concept and first location, and recently completed its largest location to-date in Palo Alto, California.

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Local Kitchens Palo Alto: Simple materials such as wood, concrete and greenery were chosen to create a clean palette, allowing the brand and its partners' colorful, graphic icons create a cohesive design and client experience. Butcher block tables are accompanied by playful welcoming pops of brand colors in the aqua and yellow chairs, bringing warmth to the space.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

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Local Kitchens' Palo Alto location is the micro food hall's largest to-date at 2,200 square feet.
Photo credit: Michelle K. Min

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Local Kitchens Palo Alto: The project team included William Duff Architects; Bali Construction (general contractor); Acmes (MEP); Play Studio (branding); County Restaurant Supply (kitchen consultant); Cerge (IT); Signage Unlimited; Trimark (equipment supplier): and Bolt Kitchens (project manager).
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

This collaborative spirit among client, designer and architect is important, particularly for high-concept destinations, like KAIYŌ Rooftop, the brainchild of Brick x Brick's John Park. And a jury of design professionals from diverse backgrounds agree: KAIYŌ Rooftop recently made the selection for this year's San Francisco Design Week Awards, an international design competition. WDA founder Duff credits the firm's ability to successfully work with diverse hospitality clients with varying goals and ambitions — from established companies to entrepreneurial brands and innovators — to Design Vision, a book-meets-design tool. The result of a five-year, firm-wide effort "to clarify the many loose threads that are woven together in the realization of our work," Design Vision approaches design problem-solving through four intrinsic elements: ordering principles, spatial qualities, design sensitivity and materiality. Duff states, "Design Vision is about collectively expressing a design vision and being creative within the framework of a cohesive vision. These conditions exist internally among us at WDA, and externally, for each project team in our pursuit of the client's vision.

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KAIYŌ Rooftop: This Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei rooftop bar and restaurant, located near the Mission Bay waterfront in San Francisco, is envisioned as a destination oasis amidst the urban landscape.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

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KAIYŌ Rooftop: The seating options are varied and flexible, and include built-in banquettes.
Photo credit: Equal Parts Media

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KAIYŌ Rooftop: The project team includes William Duff Architects; ROY Hospitality (interior designer); DCI (structural engineer); ACIES Engineering (MEP); Design West Partnership (food service); and Modern Metal Designs.
Photo credit: Patrik Argast

About William Duff Architects (WDA)

Innovative architecture throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Founded in 1998 and located in San Francisco, WDA finds inspiration in the talented people who live and work there, and the region's embrace of sustainability. The firm's commitment to a culture that fosters curiosity, collaboration, and innovation drives its success across its residential, retail and commercial practices.