Imok Smoke Dining is a minimalist space located in Seoul, South Korea, designed by Project Mark. The inception of this ambitious project began with a cohesive brainstorming process where the stakeholders immersed themselves in an extensive research process spanning over half a year. Their focus was broad, encapsulating overseas market analysis of barbecue food cultures, the nuanced design of the barbecue space, and meticulous considerations for cultivating a strong brand identity and value. Their collaborative effort led to the conceptualization of a space that reverberates with shared narratives and visions, concretized on the drafting table.
Replacing a 36-year-old public bathhouse, the space retains a nuanced echo of its past life. The residual essence of the place, marked by aged concrete walls bearing testimony to time, moisture, and heat, evokes a raw, bunker-like atmosphere. This transition from a space synonymous with water to one ruled by fire seems poetic, encapsulating a metamorphosis from dampness to fervor. The restaurant invites visitors with an enigmatic rusted iron door that hints at the space’s underground bunker inspiration. As patrons step through, a dimly lit lobby greets them, accented with an artful play of light filtering from above.
This sense of intrigue is further heightened with a glimpse of the Sunken Garden from the reception area, providing a subtle nod to the space’s below-ground level and offering a cozy, somewhat secretive atmosphere amidst the subdued illumination. As one ventures further into the restaurant’s main hall, the thematic representation of fire becomes more pronounced. The corridor mirrors the pulsating heart of the establishment – the fireplace, where the warm hue of red lighting and humidification effects craft an immersive ambiance. The fire motif finds varied interpretations throughout the restaurant, with the private dining room showcasing a more intimate rendition with pixel-shaped candle-like lights that lend a serene glow to the private quarters.