Coevál Studio’s Co-Creative Director Miguel Vicens Talks To Us About How His Company Designs Some Of Dallas’ Most Visually Stunning Bars And Restaurants.
Welcome to The Quickie, our new series featuring a short ‘n sweet, quick ‘n dirty interview with a local small business owner, chef or creator.
If you’ve ever walked into a restaurant in Dallas, and immediately been so bowled over by the design of a space that you find yourself reaching for your phone and opening your camera app before you can even finish saying the word “Wow,” then you’ve likely just seen the work of Miguel Vicens and John Paul Valverde.
As the creative directors of Coevál Studio, they’re the twosome responsible for the confident and sexy designs and vibes of such attractive area spaces as The Rustic, Happiest Hour, Stirr, Smoke, Citizen, Tanoshii, Picole Pops and Mutts Cantina, just to name a few. In other words: When architecture, design and real estate come together with the hottest new spots in town, you’re likely to find the Coevál team at work.
But in an industry that changes faster than the so-called “fickle 500” can say “pea tendrils are so hot right now,” success means being far more agile than just relying on a few tried-and-true design concepts. That’s why, for instance, Vicens and Valverde are currently working on ways to incorporate virtual reality into their client work.
Of course, that’s just one of the things Vicens shared with us when we recently caught up with him to learn more about his business and how it operates.
Read on for more.
Give everybody the Coevál Studio backstory. Who’s on the team, what’s your background, what made you decide to get in the restaurant design biz?
Coevál Studio is a team of creatives that come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, whether that is with interior design, architecture or graphic design, to make up our whole team. I worked as a project architect for many residential and hospitality projects, primarily in the realm of hotels, before John Paul, who was running a commercial real estate office, and I started Coevál. Before we started focusing on restaurant design, we opened, managed and ran restaurants overall. Our love for restaurant design grew from witnessing the interaction of people in a shared space. Restaurants have a lot of human traffic, and everyone that walks through the door gets to experience the space. Our goal is to develop spaces for the experience. It’s also a very fast-paced type of project, so, we get to jump into the design and then move into construction. We get to experience the fast process — sometimes up to several projects in a given year.
What might folks not know about you and/or your work?
That Coevál is not only a restaurant design studio. We can develop a 100,000-square-foot building while working on a smaller interior space that’s only 1,000 square feet at the same time. We love getting involved in several types of projects that can be anywhere from a small, quick-service restaurant to a large neighborhood development plan. Much of our passion comes from the project type, and we’re always looking forward to the next one to create a distinct, special experience. To us, all projects are different. Even if it has similarities, no one project is the same. We always look to innovate and enhance the overall experience of a space.
OK, but bar and restaurant industry spaces are obviously your forte. That in mind, what are some of your favorite places to eat out in Dallas?
Restaurants like Hillstone and R&D Kitchen always do a great job with consistency in the food, and their service is some of the best in town. [We at Coevál] are very open, though, and always looking forward to the next great, big restaurant experience. You’ll always see us out and about, testing out new Dallas spots.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
We are working on several existing projects that we can’t mention yet, but an exciting part of the process of these projects that we’re working on is a virtual reality experience that we’re developing for our clients. Using VR as part of the design process immensely helps our clients to literally experience the space before construction, to get a better understanding of why we make some design decisions to make the space feel a certain way. This also helps our team during the design process to make adjustments based on the space’s actual feel.
Is there something specific you look for when determining the success of a design project?
When we talk about a successful project, we discuss several aspects of it, including the guest experience, the operator’s experience, the overall flow and the restaurant’s profitability. All of these need to work together cohesively to make the concept successful and long-lasting.
Lastly, what’s next for Coevál? Anything exciting you can let us know about?
Coevál Studio is in the middle of growth and expansion into different areas of the hospitality design field. That said, we’re also physically expanding our work to other parts of the state and internationally. You can also expect to see more commercial and hotel projects from us very soon. In general, we always strive to engage in projects that focus on creating a guest experience. Anything from a restaurant or a large park to hotels or art galleries.
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