Culintro: Describe a project you’ve done that defines your signature style.
Cass Calder Smith: 25 Lusk [in San Francisco] is modern and warm, and departs from expected hospitality design. It’s about architectural design moves combined with interior finishes.
Culintro: How do you extract a concept from a client that is unsure about their vision?
CCS: We tour various projects that seem related in a city or two. We eat and drink with them. Then, we trust the concept/ideation design process to clarify it all.
Culintro: Name a restaurant design element that you wish would just go away already.
CCS: Half of the Food trucks, we’ve reached the saturation point.
Culintro: What’s one major restaurant design trend that will define 2013?
CCS: Upscale farm-to-table. Farm-to-table has usually been seen more in casual style restaurants, and is now moving up the ladder to all kinds of restaurants, all the way up to the corporate level even.
Culintro: The theme of the panel is Design & Eating. How do you go about designing a restaurant around the eater?
CCS: I just think about what I would want, and design for that. I would want an architectural setting that creates the right backdrop for the food and is in sync with the concept on the scale of casual to formal.