Last year, award-winning firm GrizForm Design Architects partnered with restaurateur Mark Kuller to create Doi Moi, a 3,000-square-foot Southeast Asian restaurant and lounge in the Logan Circle area of Washington, DC. Doi Moi’s architecture is mostly monochromatic, with a nuanced white color palette used throughout the space. The design team integrated clean lines, glazed tiles, white brickwork and mosaic flooring to accentuate the overall light feel of the restaurant.

In preparation of the opening in August 2013, the owner and chef took a month-long tour of Vietnam and Thailand. They came back with many preliminary ideas, and decided it was imperative to keep the palette clean and neutral, using various textures to keep it warm. “We always want to create spaces that are fresh and new without repeating our designs,” said GrizForm Design Architects’ Principal, Griz Dwight. “On this project, we didn’t want to repeat themes and moods either. We wanted Doi Moi to be optimistic without a trace of nostalgia. The food is light, clean and fresh, so we wanted the design to reflect that.”

At the start of the project, which took a total of 16 weeks to complete, many tiles were sourced. The final selections, supplied by Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Porcelanosa and Ceramic Technics LTD, were deemed best to meet the team’s design goals and budget. Because they were keeping the palette bright and white, the team chose tiles with texture and subtle color changes to give the restaurant depth and warmth. “This was a fairly tile-heavy project,” said Dwight. “We used tumbled marble mosaic on the floors and tile on the walls, which have a slightly ribbed texture. We even sourced some printed concrete tile direct from Ho Chi Minh City, which we used on an accent wall.”

The bulkheads above the kitchen and bar are covered in 12- x 35-inch Tokyo Nacar tile to provide a subtle texture and enhance the deep brown leather booths. For the countertop below, Caesarstone quartz was used in Organic White. The wall at the shelving unit features 8- x 12-inch Brunei Blanco tile by Porcelanosa. The staircase leading to the downstairs lounge (known as 2 Birds 1 Stone) features Town Ubatek Moka 12- x 24-inch tile. On the exterior, near the entrance, the team used 23- x 46-inch Zen Blanco tile, also from Porcelanosa. At the interior vestibule, the owner provided authentic Vietnamese tiles. Finally, the tumbled marble used on the floor was Kutu White.

Because of the complexity of the tile design, the team was on site weekly checking on the progress. “When working with patterned tile it’s important that the contractor lay out the wall properly so that the pattern continues uninterrupted,” said Dwight.  “We had a fantastic installer, and he did everything perfectly.”

Reaction to the project has been very positive and the restaurant is packed every night. “The design is noted as a standout in the neighborhood, where many of the restaurants are finished in dark rustic wood and steel details,” said Dwight. “Doi Moi is a bright glowing box along the street. You can’t help but walk down the sidewalk and be drawn into it.” 

Doi Moi

Washington, DC

Architect and Interior Design Firm: GrizForm Design Architects, Washington, DC

General Contractor: Potomac Construction Services, Inc., Bethesda, MD 

Tile Manufacturers: Porcelanosa, Ceramic Technics LTD

Quartz Manufacturer: Caesarstone, Van Nuys, CA