In Situ by Aidlin Darling Design: 2016 Best of Year Winner for Casual Dining

PROJECT NAME In Situ
LOCATION San Francisco
FIRM Aidlin Darling Design
SQ. FT. 6,300 SQF

In tandem with Snøhetta’s renovation and expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Joshua Aidlin, David Darling, and associate Adam Rouse unveiled a restaurant inside. “The museum has a mission of making art more accessible and less intimidating,” Darling says. So the trio envisioned a setting that’s sophisticated but simultaneously a tad rough around the edges. Sights, sounds, and smells would change as patrons arrived, either via the street entrance or through the atrium in SFMOMA’s original building by Mario Botta.


In Situ by Aidlin Darling Design. Photography by Matthew Millman.

In Situ by Aidlin Darling Design. Photography by Matthew Millman.


On a more literal level, the existing café was gutted to yield a 6,300-­ square-foot blank canvas for public areas and the kitchen. The layout is a break with convention—there’s no bar. Diners arrive at a lounge that’s half for sitting and half for standing or perching on high stools. Tables on both sides have tops of reclaimed cottonwood, those on the standing-perching side being more gutsy hewn-edge creations. Walls are either covered in gray felt, to control acoustics, or painted white, to host art. Flooring is gallery-standard poured concrete. Slender pendant fixtures in blackened steel, gilded inside, help to spotlight a shimmering mural of an abstracted flower. A canopy of pine slats, starting over the lounge and then undulating above the dining area, might just be a site-specific art installation.


In Situ by Aidlin Darling Design. Photography by Matthew Millman.

In Situ by Aidlin Darling Design. Photography by Matthew Millman.


Project Team: Roslyn Cole; Ryan Hughes; Jeff Laboskey; Kent Chiang.


> See more from the December 2016 issue of Interior Design

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