Design Crush: Foreign Concept, a Pan-Asian Restaurant Packed with Nods to the Past
Designer Alykhan Velji seamlessly combines modern colonial influences and Asian accents at Chef Duncan Ly’s new Calgary restaurant.
When celebrated chef Duncan Ly decided to open a restaurant in Calgary, he went straight to YYC local (and 2016 Designers of the Year finalist) Alykhan Velji, principal and senior designer of Alykhan Velji Designs.
Ly wanted his restaurant, Foreign Concept, to look like it had been there forever: he wanted “to create a dining experience that was casual and comfortable, but refined,” say Velji, who brought the vision to life by combining modern colonial influences with Asian accents.
One challenge with any large space—Foreign Concept measures 3,500 square-feet and seats 110 patrons—is creating an intimate dining area, so Velji and his team selected a warm, inviting colour palette that’s not “too edgy or modern—it’s somewhere people feel comfortable to come for a nice drink or dinner.” Ly’s menu also came into play: like the food (pan-Asian cuisine with a French flair), the design is “a nod to the Asian, but not over the top,” says Velji. “You can see the elements of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.”
Velji opted for natural wood tables and brought in a handful of custom pieces (wall murals, metal screens, brass-and-oak floors) to create a “unique dining experience [that changes] depending on which area you’re seated in,” he says. Everything comes together to form an elegant and cohesive space that feels as if it’s always been there.
1011 1 St. SW, Calgary