Each space begins, before the design, even before the concept, with context and conversation. Basan started as a conversation between ODM, developers, and Four Man Ladder, restauranteurs, about Detroit — about a revitalized city, new development, discovering a niche and galvanizing a neighborhood. They identified The Eddystone, a former hotel turned apartments, as the perfect opportunity for a restaurant that could keep pace with a buzzing new Detroit. KTGY’s Interior Design and Branding studio started here, took cues from the space, and defined a concept that gave us Basan Detroit. Taking its name from the fire-breathing bird of Japanese legend, this fusion Izakaya is a first for the area.
The Eddystone’s historic architecture inspired two distinct spaces united with a clear thematic through line. The guests step into the building’s main hallway and residential lobby, and are greeted by the host during operating hours. This entry hall splits the space into two wings of street-fronted real estate: stage left is the restaurant, and stage right is the lounge and bar.
For the interior design team, the key to this space was finding commonalities between The Eddystone’s Vitruvian architecture and Japan’s crowded taverns. The team studied rustic Japanese architecture and found similarities in honesty and symmetry. For the restaurant wing, KTGY’s designers used wood details in natural tones, lit by a warm hue that accentuates the grain. The wood is offset by dark finished walls and earthy-red upholstery that interposes a velvety look and feel. The effect is a combination of honest Japanese architecture with details that evoke a more sophisticated, even edgy, Tokyo.
The lounge leans into sophistication with plush couches and chairs, moodier lighting, and contemporary fixtures. A wooden screen hangs over the bar and defines the space, carrying a strong design motif between the two wings. This statement piece incorporates angled panels adorned with commissioned prints by Don Kilpatrick III, responsible for the “Spirit of Detroit” murals, among many pieces. His art reiterates the brand themes and imagery, slightly abstracted. It features the namesake bird along with flowers, waves and other icons.
Basan’s identity is expressed in its three brand pillars: Dutiful, Humming, Candid. The restaurant’s mission is to pay respect to the people of Detroit with quality food and drink, served with skill and detail. The atmosphere translates Japan’s thrumming after-hours scene to Detroit’s tastes. Robatayaki is honest food for hardworking people, as much a matter of technique as ingredients. The best seats in the house are along the chef’s counter, where food is prepared right in front of the customers.
Every texture, tangible, and art piece is an expression of these values. KTGY’s conversations became not just a name and logo — which, after collaborative sessions with the client, became the playful firebird — but brand guidelines that defined the distinct typeface, staff uniforms, different logos for every use; color, material and patterns that will carry the brand into the future. Customers can hold the menus and matchbooks, they will notice the uniforms and logos, but what creates moments of lasting impact is a roots-deep commitment to the concepts and identity that were defined long before the first yakitori came off the grill.
Owner | Builder: ODM
Interior Design | Branding: KTGY
Architect: Kraemer Design Group, LLC
Food Concept: Four Man Ladder
Artist: Don Kilpatrick III
Photographer: Owen Kaufman
Floor Area: 4,520 sq. ft.