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Matthew Craig Interiors

MATTHEW CRAIG INTERIORS

Matthew Craig Interiors is a high-end, boutique Interior Design Studio. We help our client’s by capturing their unique spirit through an artistic and sophisticated lens. With over 15 years of experience, we’ve worked on everything from residential remodels and new construction, to restaurant and hospitality designs.  

Heidi Caillier

HEIDI CAILLIER

Heidi Caillier Design is a full-service interior design firm based in Seattle, experienced in everything from new build construction to simple room refreshes. Our expertise lies in full-scale renovations and full-house furnishings. We work closely with architects, builders, contractors, furniture makers, and artisans to create unique spaces that are client-friendly and speak to your specific needs.

Our design philosophy is based on the belief that homes should be comfortable and livable while at the same time beautiful and curated. Our style mixes old with new, integrating textures and color, layered with pieces that feel travelled and have history. An intrinsic love of vintage furniture and materials that feature raw and natural textures balance our appreciation of color and pattern to create spaces that feel practical and effortless.

2021 Q4

 

In this issue, jump into the PNW’s cooler months with SDC. See some colors and accent pieces we’ve been loving, and hear from some designers about what’s been inspiring them! Also, meet some new faces, showrooms, and lines you’ll be able to find around SDC.

2021 Q3

 

In this issue, get inspired with SDC. Learn about things we love and see some of our showrooms’ most inspiring shapes! Also, meet some new faces, showrooms, and lines you’ll be able to find around SDC.

2021 Q2

 

In this issue, explore outdoor living with SDC. Learn about things we love and some tips for designing outdoors! Also, meet some new faces and lines you’ll be able to find around SDC.

2021 Q1

 

New year, new mini-mag! Learn about the colors of the year and how you’ll be seeing them at SDC, as well as things we and some talented designers love. Also, meet some new faces and lines you’ll be able to find around SDC.

Everett Fitzhugh | Keeping it Kraken

Everett Fitzhugh | Keeping it Kraken

In this episode of Inspired Design, let NHL announcer, Everett Fitzhugh’s contagious energy and passion for the future seep through your speakers and into your ears. You will be transported to the new Climate Pledge Area and get an endearing glimpse into why Everett is so proud to make history with The Seattle Kraken!

Listen on your platform of choice

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Tom Douglas’s Curated Kitchen

In this episode of Inspired Design, famed chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas gives us an in-depth tour around his eclectic home kitchen and yes, also his bathroom. We learn why it is essential to share your spirit when designing and how flow and function are a major priority for any kitchen.

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Episode Transcript

Gina:
I’m Gina Colucci, with the Seattle Design Center. Every week on Inspired Design, we sit down with an iconic creator in a space that inspires them.

Tom:
Somebody walks into your restaurant, you want to share who you are with them and what your idea behind the restaurant was, pretty quickly.

Gina:
You can’t talk about Seattle’s food scene without mentioning Tom Douglas. Tom has been making food in Seattle for 35 years. He opened his first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge in 1989. From there, he launched more than a dozen other enterprises and has received three James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restauranteur in 2012. His imprint on the city and the entire Pacific Northwest is unmistakable. He helped put Seattle on the map as a food destination. I got the chance to catch up with Tom in his home kitchen, where his mark on the space is immediately recognizable.

Speaker 3:
Hello.

Speaker4:
Can we come in?

Tom:
No.

Gina:
We meet his business partner and wife Jackie, and learn how they built their kitchen from the ground up.

Speaker4:
Thank you for having us.

Speaker 3:
Yeah

Tom:
Pleasure.

Speaker4:
Inviting us in.

Tom:
When we first moved into this house about 22 years ago now, [crosstalk 00:01:17] maybe 23, 24. Well, the first day we walked in, the mountains were crystal clear out in the mountains[crosstalk 00:01:24]November. Now you can only see half of them, but it always reminds me of that day we walked in here [crosstalk 00:01:31]and then we couldn’t afford the house. We did it anyway.

Speaker4:
Do you want to give us like a little verbal tour?

Tom:
I guess the question is there’s design; there’s function; there’s flow, and so when I go through it, I guess I speak to that because in the restaurant business, on the hotline, it’s all about fluff, right? And design is a little bit different. Because design, like you have to decide, do you want to commercial looking kitchen? Do you want a home-style kitchen? I kind of went both ways with that, but flow is number one. It’s like when you’re standing at the stove and you need hot water, or you need something from the fridge or you need to get to your cutting board, how does that work? How does that feel? And are you running back and forth through your kitchen or is everything just at your fingertips?

Tom:
And then the restaurants, each station is set up for a flow for that station and for what dishes come off of that station. So it’s kind of set up so that it’s at your fingertips, everything right there. And then in the restaurant, like you see my stack of saute pans, things like that.

Speaker4:
Yes.

Tom:
A pan like this, I just said a 12 inch saute pan or 10 inch saute pan. I might use this three times a week at home. I’ll use this 300 times a night at the restaurant. And so it’s just a different thing, and I have high expectations and I still have some of my original pans, 25 years later at Palace Kitchen of this All-Clad nice heavy pan. So some people might consider that design, because it’s a fancy looking pan. But to me it’s useful.

Speaker4:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom:
How does it function? So form and flow and function are huge issues in my kitchen.

Gina:
When you walk into their house, you’re immediately struck by the amazing view of the Olympic mountains. And then as you turn the corner, you’re in the kitchen and this kitchen is exactly what a professional chef would want. It is dialed in. It’s not a minimalist kitchen. We’ll put it that way. His kitchen is filled with everything that he loves, and there’s very little counter space left, but everything has a purpose.

Tom:
You can see everything’s kind of out and about. You might see in a restaurant, pan racks. My knives are all lined up ready for me to grab. Everything’s kind of out and about, but at the same time, I got nice wood shelves and hold up all my cutting boards and my big pots in the lids and things that you would never see in a restaurant. So that’s kind of a baseline of what I tried to do.

Speaker4:
You mentioned you bought this on 25 years ago.

Tom:
Yeah.

Speaker4:
Is this what the kitchen looked like?

Tom:
Are you kidding me? Your back is to the kitchen right now when we bought it. If you turn around, there was a shelving unit that came off the fireplace here. And so the stove was right there and the refrigerator was over here. It only had a four seat dining room. And so we just need more, we entertain a lot. And so we needed more space. So we took the kitchen and dining room, combine those, then took the TV room and made a kitchen out of it.

Tom:
And then this over here, now that’s commercial. If you look in here, I have a two minute cycle dishwasher. So every two minutes it goes through a whole load. And then I have a spray nozzle that you see in every restaurant kitchen. But I have it tucked away because I’m entertaining over in my dining room, and I didn’t want to see that in my kitchen. So I have this tucked around the corner and there’s a big enough place to drop all the dirty dishes. So you don’t have to do it till later, but that’s what that is.

Speaker4:
That looks really convenient.

Tom:
Yeah. And when you entertain a lot, it is convenient. I can tell you, I can do dishes for a party of 30 in an hour.

Speaker4:
Well, then no wonder you entertain.

Speaker 3:
Yeah.

Speaker4:
That’s the best biggest way. And I want a little bit more insight on this island because walking into what used to be your TV room is now your wonderful kitchen. This island here is a very substantial part of it.

Tom:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker4:
And so what was the reasoning and the shape?

Tom:
It looks like a baseball diamond. Honestly, if you look at interior of a baseball diamond, that’s what it kind of looks like, but it’s actually very functional.

Gina:
The kitchen Island is on wheels and you can push it to the corner of the kitchen, which shakes this professional prep kitchen and turns it into an amazing entertainment space.

Tom:
Around the island. I have large drawers. Each drawer is kind of dedicated to an area of service. So I have a whole baking drawer there. I have a pasta and starch drawer over there. On this side I have all my bowls in the bottom one and all my stuff like saran, rapid gloves and stuff like that in another. The top was intended that at the time when we built it, we didn’t have Hot Stove Society or cooking school. And we would often new classes and donate classes. And so I made it so that I could get nine people around this island, and I was the 10th, so groups of 10 we could do a cooking class together.

Tom:
And then we put it on wheels, which is unlike most islands. And if you look at the shape of the island, it fits right back into the corner there. So that when I have a party, I will put all the buffet out here, shove the island, then back when I’m done cooking and the lights go right over top of the buffet then. And so it’s well lit and it opens up this room for more traffic.

Tom:
And of course you can see the big hole in the island too. That was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But yeah, that’s just a simple little garbage.

Speaker4:
Well, yeah. I was like, there’s a hole on it. Did you know that? And so speaking, I mean, you’ve mentioned that you have parties and you entertain. Is that a source of inspiration for you?

Tom:
Perspective, absolutely. There’s a couple of things that go on there. One is I had 15 restaurants, right? And so I’m always thinking about new menu items, this and that. Maybe a new restaurant, this and that. So I keep a set of china from each restaurant here. And so if you look on this wall over here, I have maybe a dozen sets of china over here and I have more in the garage so that when I played something that I’m dreaming up for Lola, I can put it on a style of plate that matches Lola’s food and thought process.

Tom:
And that’s kind of why I do that. Plus there’s just fun to have. And then on the platter side down there, I have a whole collection of platters and I try to buy one, when we travel around the world, we try to buy a platter from each place as a memento so that when we’re passing around the table, it’s a conversation piece.

Speaker4:
Oh, shot glass.

Tom:
Exactly.

Speaker4:
So, I mean, going back to the different plates, would you say that each one of your restaurants obviously has its own personality? Is that part of your creative process? Do you kind of think of your restaurants as maybe people.

Tom:
Not necessarily people, but individual places, yes. I sure do. And they end up taking on my personality, Jackie’s personality. They end up sometimes if a chef has been there long enough, they’ll take on the management personality, especially in the service side of things. And it’s a gentle way to share your spirit, right? When you think about it, it’s like when somebody walks into your restaurant, you want to share who you are with them and what your idea behind the restaurant was pretty quickly.

Tom:
You don’t want it to be something that they have to come back six times for it. You want to kind of show that right away. And that comes across in the light fixture that you choose and the color of paint that you choose. And it comes across in your access to visual with the kitchen, like serious pie. I always wanted everyone to be able to see the wood fire in the oven. When I set up the dining room, I kind of worked it so that every table could see the wood fire. And so that was an energy that I wanted to bring to that customer. And just an immediate, oh my God, that looks delicious, or fire, people love fire.

Speaker4:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom:
Some people love it a little too much. They’re called pyromaniacs.

Speaker4:
Don’t we all? I know a few of them were past child. What would you say or which restaurant hits closest to your own personality?

Tom:
I don’t really think about it. Probably this kitchen does more than any of the in particular restaurants, I would say, because of the functionality of restaurants like Dahlia Lounge has 170 seats. You can’t get anywhere close to what you might do here, because you have to service a lot of people all the time, three meals a day, seven days a week.

Tom:
From the menu was probably more close to what I would relate to than the restaurant itself. And I would say that all of them are a moment in my time at Palace Kitchen, probably the closest if I’m in another city and I’m going out for one or two meals and I’m in a hotel, or on business, and I want a sense of place. I look for a place that has windows. I hate places that have no visuals to the outside world that you don’t know if you’re in Seattle or Paris. I hate that. So I looked for a place that has windows, activity and gives me a sense that if I’m in Seattle for two nights, that I’ve been there; that I didn’t miss a thing.

Speaker4:
So I want to touch back too on, you said, the menu is kind of closer personally to you,

Tom:
To my personality.

Speaker4:
Yeah, to your personality. Can you walk us through what it’s like for you to create a menu through that process?

Tom:
Yeah. You never know Where it’s going to come from. That’s so funny. We’ll take Lola for example, Jackie’s grandfather immigrated from Greece when he was 17, married a woman from Kentucky in Eastern Washington when he was working on the railroad and never had a chance to go back. She wasn’t interested and he just never had a chance. And one time when we were at Dahlia, I don’t remember why it happened, but we did a Grandpa Louie’s Greek vacation, dream Greek vacation plate. And it was just I did some Greek things, because I was in the mood for that or whatever. And so out of that came my book Tom’s Big Dinners. And so we took that one step further and made it like a five course meal out of that. And out of that big dinners came Lola, the restaurant, because we love that chapter, and we love the energy of that chapter. And we loved that she’s part Greek, and that word has a story all of our restaurants, so need to have a story behind them why they’re there. So I love that about it.

Speaker4:
Did you get to meet him?

Tom:
I never did meet Louie. No, never did. Jackie just was so embarrassed by me that she never took me over to him. Was Louie even alive when we met?

Jackie:
He was long passed.

Tom:
He was dead. Louie is dead to me. [crosstalk 00:12:55]

Gina:
One thing that surprised me, Tom is quite the collector. And we got a tour of his favorite treasures sprinkled throughout the kitchen.

Speaker4:
Little bus or what would you call them? Faces?

Tom:
I think they are. I have a $5 dough right here. The jar spice rub with love spice rub, if you can tell me what they are.

Speaker4:
Well, they all have a hole in their mouth.

Tom:
Yes, that’s true. Those are butcher string holders.

Speaker4:
I would not have guessed that. [crosstalk 00:13:23]

Tom:
I know you wouldn’t. So if you look at them in the back, they’re hollow and a ball of butcher twine fits in there, and you hang this in your kitchen and the twine comes out, so when you need to put your string, you just pull on it. I collect now post-World War II, Chakra Wear, vintage.

Gina:
Chakra Wear got it started in the 1800s, as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to ceramics coming from Europe and China by boat. The pieces were made from plaster of Paris and then hand painted. Chakra Wear surged in popularity after world war II. There were fewer ceramics coming from Europe, which was ravaged by the war and slowly rebuilding. Chakra Wear from this time period is known for its kitschy patterns and outrageous colors. By the 1960s, it had fallen out of favor as more durable ceramics became affordable in the US.

Tom:
I collect them. These are little wine stoppers of the same kind of vintage. And what’s cool about them, there’s only eight in the series, but because they’re hand painted, every one is different. So here’s four guys of the same series, but each one is a little bit different. And so I just always kind of thought they were fun.

Speaker 3:
Little bottle stoppers.

Tom:
Yeah. Bottle stoppers.

Speaker4:
What about the post World War II time period speaks to you?

Tom:
Well, it wasn’t so much the date specifically. It was more the energy of the items. And at that time I was a big E-bay guy and I was finding little bits and[inaudible 00:15:04] that I kind of enjoyed looking at. And I thought made a good collection, so that’s how that happened. I mean, if you look in my bathroom, I have a collection of shadow boxes or tribute boxes from a guy. He made them in his garage and in the Carolinas and his name is Jim Charles. And I got one, I saw it on eBay and I got one, I got to here. It was $20. And it’s like, this is goofy, but I kind of like it.

Tom:
I liked that American folk art kind of genre and not just American, but folk art. And I got it here and I fell in love with it. And now I have 50 of them and he just stopped posting, and I don’t know how to get any more. I don’t even know how to contact the guy. So it was kind of sad in a way.

Speaker4:
Yeah.

Tom:
Let’s go take a look at him for a second.

Gina:
Next thing I knew I was standing in Tom Douglas’s bathroom.

Tom:
Each one has got its own little story. So here’s James Brown, Say It Loud Soul, and then he puts a little story on the back and signs it. And that’s what they’re, and they’re $20. And they’re like the sweetest little deals. And so this is post World War II chocolate, that’s the kind of thing you would get at a carnival. It’s a King Kong statue. And I put a bunch of Jim beam bottle space needles around it, and I have to make a pedestal for him, but I have little Washington knickknacks and stuff like these as all, but I love these, these speak to me.

Speaker4:
Oh yeah. You got Michelle.

Tom:
Michelle and Barack and Jackie Robinson. And like I said down at canteen Alania and they’re kind of the decor on my back bar. Even stuff like this guy right here. That is a Tim Wolf. My guess is it came out of a pub in England somewhere. And it’s just been hammered around a piece of plywood and it’s just spectacular. And when you stand there to pee, you got to have some serious need to pee, because that guy stares at you right in the face.

Gina:
The tour continued back in the kitchen.

Speaker4:
You put so much of your collectibles into your restaurants.

Tom:
Not just into them, but the restaurants really are heavy with them. But I think, I did this over the holidays at hostels, show people how to take that very same butcher twine holder and put it on your cheeseboard. And kind of decorate around it. And when you have people over, there’s something to talk about. It’s like, it just is part of who I am. And so now we can have that conversation and I like taking your own individual designed pieces and having that conversation with people.

Speaker 3:
That’s amazing.

Tom:
Like this guy right here, the weenie man [inaudible 00:18:01] it’s like the goofiest thing you ever saw? It’s a framed paper marionette of a man holding a tray of weenies sausages. And why is that here? I don’t know. [inaudible 00:18:16] Exactly. It’s the same goofy little stuff.

Speaker4:
And what about these? Are they soap?

Tom:
These are sardine tins. And I like the boxes more than I did the sardines. So I kept the boxes, but I just found them in a grocery store. They’re still out there, out and about. And they’re really nice artwork. Martha Stewart loved these. She called me and asked me where I got those. I said, “Martha, I made them”. Just tins, and I put a washer on the back. That was magnetic. And so that it goes to my knife bar.

Gina:
This got lost in the conversation, but now he uses the tins to hold all his spices.

Speaker4:
What’s your favorite spice?

Tom:
Oh, posh. Oh my God. That was funny stuff.

Jackie:
It was a spice girlfriend back in the day. Oh yeah.

Tom:
Yeah. I started these, I think it’s just a beautiful fragrance and little goes a long way from a spice perspective.

Speaker4:
Does it remind you of anything?

Tom:
There was a restaurant in San Francisco called China Moon and Barbara Tropp was the owner. She’s long gone, but it reminds me of walking in there and walking into an old grocery the Viet Wawa in our international district or [inaudible 00:19:36] grocery, which was the first Asian grocery I used to shop at. And Stan was the owner there, and just had one of those long black hairs hanging out of his chin. And he was just the coolest guy and the Wing Luke Museum is where that is now. But yeah, I just love the smell of those stores and they all were fragrant [inaudible 00:19:56].

Gina:
We were coming to the end of our time together, and I wanted to know more about the inspiration and design behind some of Tom’s other iconic restaurants.

Speaker4:
Where do you begin when we touched on your process how you found a Lola, but when you decide you get that spark of I’m ready to open another restaurant, where do you usually find that inspiration?

Tom:
Well, Jackie and I design them and then we just kind of build off. I think the Carlisle room is a good example. I had one piece of folk art that I had. It’s a Bob Dylan. It was 12 feet wide and about almost 10 feet tall. And I saw it at a curiosity shop and I really spoke to me and I liked it. And so we designed the Carlile room, literally around that piece of folk art. It turns out we found on the back of it, it was part of the 1972 Grammy set. And so apparently there are four matching pieces to it somewhere they’re probably all gone, it’s my guess. It’s just on plywood and it’s just done with a brush and a roller. So it’s nothing like fine art, but that was the Grammy set of pieces. Like when you would see an act, those are the kinds of things they would make. And that survives somehow all the way to me finding it at Kirk Albert collectibles down in Georgetown.

Speaker4:
And can you describe a little bit more what it looked like?

Tom:
It’s just gray and all the features that you could tell that it was Bob Dylan were in a black paint, he’s smoking a cigarette and to me, it was so obvious right away. Some people don’t see it, but that’s how that happened. And we ended up with Marshall Amp speakers and we ended up with 1960s’ videos playing on the wall and the whole restaurant became kind of that 1968 flower power. And I had the whole installation of gerbera daisies in glass vases, kind of representing that. I just built from there. You never know when you’re going to get an inspiration, you might be walking through an art gallery and the painting talks to you in a way that just says I’m an opener diner. I don’t know what it is. I mean, those days are probably passed for me from the style of going about opening new restaurants in that way.

Tom:
But the idea of why this restaurant happened, it’s a flicker. And then all of a sudden it starts to build, it’s walking through a market in Spain on the Ramblas and saying, Jesus, we could do this. This is so good. It’s so fun. Well, let’s try something like this. And then my natural inclination is to start trying to be more authentic about the way it looks and the way it feels. And I try not to do it unless I have a real story around it. Like for example, Lola, to me, the story is Jackie’s Greekness, and Jackie’s grandfather. I feel good about that. I’ve never called it a Greek restaurant. I called it a Greek spirited restaurant. It’s what I would think of as what I would do now in a modern Athens restaurant. Never tried to say I was Greek. Nothing like that. And that’s the way I look at all my places, their inspirations, and not necessarily anything more than that.

Speaker4:
You have a very successful career, and it’s all centered here in Seattle. Is there a reason behind that? Why stay in one place and cultivated there?

Tom:
Well, I don’t know if you’ve met her, but I only have one daughter Loretta who’s about ready to have a baby boy named Hercules on the 4th of March. Theycan’t land on a name. So I named it for them. [crosstalk 00:23:45] We did, we had two names with Sage or Loretta. Her middle name is Rhoda Faye after her grandmother’s name, the Grandma Dot was Rhoda Faye. So what was your question?

Speaker4:
Why Seattle?

Tom:
Oh, why Seattle? Oh, why stay here? I just never had much interest in being on the road. I had a lot of friends, my peers of that age group did all of that. Whether it was Marcus Samuelsson, Mario Batali, Todd English, Emre, Wolfgang, you name all these people, they all did the national restaurant thing. And I never saw a whole lot of happiness there. I just saw people doing something like they felt like they needed to do.

Tom:
And I almost feel the same way about me. It felt right to keep expanding. Didn’t necessarily have to be that way. I’m a ADD. I don’t know what I am, but I just kept building. And for us, the inspiration had to go with having the money to do it. We didn’t borrow money from banks. And so for us, it was always like, if we have enough money, let’s try it. Why not? I’m an entrepreneur that way.

Speaker4:
Yeah.

Tom:
I’m not scared of risk. And in the restaurant business, you have a lot of risk.

Gina:
Hey, do you have a special memory from eating at a Tom Douglas restaurant? Head to Seattle Design Centers Instagram posts for this episode and tell us all the details. Inspired Design is brought to you by the Seattle Design Center. The show is produced by Larj Media. You can find them at larjmedia.com. Special thanks to Meechie Suzuki, Lisa Willis and Kimmy Design for bringing this podcast to life. For more head to seattledesigncenter.com, where you can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media. If you’re looking for inspiration, come check out the Seattle Design Center in Georgetown. We’re open Monday through Friday from 9a.m. to 5p.m.

The Moriguchis’ Glorious Grocery

On this episode of Inspired Design join us as we get an inside look at one of the most iconic PNW family-owned establishments, the Flagship Uwajimaya Market. Denise and Miye Moriguchi, the 3rd generation powerhouses leading the business, tour us through the much-loved store while teaching us about its less-known past. Uwajimaya is synonymous with the Moriguchi family’s history, a macrocosmic look at how the market has both changed and stayed the same throughout its existence.

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Episode Transcript

Denise Moriguchi:
In 1962, when the Seattle World Fair was in town, my grandfather really wanted to have a presence there. Even though we never got to meet our grandfather, I feel like that was his moment where he decided he wanted to sell to more than just Japanese customers, but really share Japanese food and culture with everyone. I think that’s a moment I think about often and how it’s probably changed the course of who Uwajimaya is today.

Gina Colucci:
I’m Gina Colucci with the Seattle Design Center. Every week on Inspire Design, we sit down with an iconic creator in a space that inspires them.

Mia Moriguchi:
We are at the Seattle flagship Uwajimaya store. This is actually the third physical location in the district.

Gina Colucci:
This week, I met up with Denise and Mia Moriguchi, the powerhouses behind Uwajimaya. Their grandfather started the business out of the back of his truck in 1928. And just last year, Mia and Denise led the company through a $10 million remodel.

Mia Moriguchi:
This latest effort that just completed in October of 2020 was our first major refresh of the store since 2000.

Gina Colucci:
Their story spans generations and decades.

Mia Moriguchi:
This is Denise’s dad and my uncle, right there and another uncle of ours so there were seven siblings.

Gina Colucci:
It is a triumphant one, but not without heartbreak.

Mia Moriguchi:
My father, Denise and the whole family just worked so hard.

Gina Colucci:
Let’s start from the top.

Mia Moriguchi:
We did just enter through the new entry. This is brand new to the store. It used to be part of the produce department and just a rotunda, but we really felt this more grand entry into our produce department was something that would really excite people as they walked in.

Gina Colucci:
Mia studied architecture and design at Yale and worked at a Seattle design firm for 11 years before joining the Uwajimaya leadership team.

Mia Moriguchi:
We really are proud of our produce selection, especially the Asian greens and gingers and mushrooms and all these types of varieties. It changes seasonally so that’s really exciting. And then, if we walk that way, so part of it was really trying to orient customers as they’re walking in. So when you do walk in, not only do you see the produce department, but you can see our meat department and all the way back to our seafood department, which is one of our most proud departments for sure and just the unique kind of character of Uwajimaya itself.

Gina Colucci:
I have to stop here for a second because in that moment, I realized that I had one foot in the present store, a beautiful modern space with thoughtful design elements, but I also had one foot in the past. Uwajimaya has so much history if these walls could talk. I mean they were talking. The backstory of this space and business and this family just pours out of the walls and creates the energy in the air. As we go on our tour, we keep jumping back and forth through time to tell Uwajimaya’s whole story and how these two powerhouse women are at the helm of this company’s next chapter.

Denise Moriguchi:
Uwajimaya was started by our grandparents, Fujimatsu and Sadako Moriguchi.

Gina Colucci:
This is Denise, Uwajimaya’s CEO. She got her MBA from MIT and returned to Seattle to join the family business in 2013.

Denise Moriguchi:
Our grandfather came from Japan then like many immigrants, he was looking for job and better opportunity. So he arrived in Tacoma in the 1920s by boat. There were Japanese bachelors working in mining and fishing and logging camps and he went to where they were and sold them fishcakes. That was his kind of like specialty. So Japanese [foreign language 00:03:40], and then he’d sell them rice and soy sauce. Then as these bachelors started getting married, he opened a store because it now was a different customer shopping. It was the wife. So they opened their first store in Tacoma in the 1920s.

Gina Colucci:
Uwajimaya’s humble beginnings are in sharp contrast to the large team responsible for the multimillion dollar renovation that Mia is telling me about. I used to come here all the time and I had my office right down the street. One thing I do notice is the update of colors.

Mia Moriguchi:
Yes.

Gina Colucci:
How much thought and planning went into picking the right green and the right blue and the right yellow?

Mia Moriguchi:
No, very good point. We worked with a very talented team of designers, and starting with our kind of our new brand expression. So we have some updates on that. Then Hoshide Wanzer Architects were our main architect firm, and then we worked with Cushing Terrell for kind of layout and grocery store layout and design and such, and Bruce Hale for our brand and imagery. It was a very collaborative approach to all of that, but really the overall is we kind of neutralized the palette that used to be here I would say, but wanted to really bring to life some of the certain departments and kind of distinct areas, but in a more intentional way. So we do have a pretty bright green in the produce. We have these large banners. This is an artist from Japan that we found and he had these amazing, beautiful illustrations, so much texture, but also really just it felt right when we saw his work and so we commissioned some of these pieces for this store.

Gina Colucci:
So when I look at these four beautiful banners up above the produce section, you nailed it. They have this great texture to it with these designs. They’re beautiful, but I wouldn’t know that’s an actual Japanese artist. That’s really cool.

Mia Moriguchi:
So you continue through the meat department and you really see all of this beautiful meat, all the cuts. There’s Jesse. So we have much of a more defined meat department, but we do offer a lot of specialty cut meats, so the thin slice meats, pork and beef, and then of course our really high-end Wagyu style beef over there.

Gina Colucci:
And that’s something that you can’t get in a normal grocery store?

Mia Moriguchi:
Nothing up to that amount of it, for sure, or variety I would say. Yeah. [inaudible 00:06:23] … some seasoned pork, so already made for dumplings if you wanted to make the dumplings. It kind of skips a step, which is really nice for [inaudible 00:06:33] … very busy. So our sashimi department, we have restaurant grade quality sashimi fish here, and we really wanted to distinguish it from your experience buying it there at this counter versus buying it at the more fish market type of environment. So we enhanced this, we call it our sashimi island, and it features a house-made poke every day. You can see the sashimi cutters at the corner here cutting expertly, these pieces of fish, and then you can pick them up to go home on all the way around it.

Gina Colucci:
As we’re walking by, people know you. Your workers know you. They’re waving. They feel comfortable. They’re excited to see you. How does that make you feel?

Denise Moriguchi:
Oh, it’s fun because we’ve kind of grown up in the store. So actually some employees they’re like, “I remember when you were this tall,” and it’s to their knee, but it’s just been fun seeing people just be here for so long. We’ve got people who’ve been here 10, 20, 30, 40 years. So we just got to know them and they’re like our family. So it’s nice.

Mia Moriguchi:
They also run into about five family members a day if you were here. We’re moving into more of our deli offerings. I would say our [foreign language 00:07:51], our grandmother would probably be just astounded at what the kitchen and the deli looks like today. We remember her in the old store. She would make lunch for all of the employees every day, and she would hand roll the sushi rolls and the curries and all of the different dishes. That’s what I remember her. She would be in that back corner of the store making lunch. So now, it’s really this place to find all types of different foods ready to eat. We have our sushi, our… Let’s see. We have noodle bowls over here. We have all the kind of, a lot of the traditional side dishes that you find in Japan and different… We have shumai and Vietnamese spring rolls. Yeah.

Gina Colucci:
And back to your grandmother. What do you think she would say?

Denise Moriguchi:
[crosstalk 00:08:49] I think she’d be so proud and just amazed at the volume of products, but also how diverse our customers, employees have become, and that the business has grown since my grandfather and grandmother first started it.

Gina Colucci:
After starting the company, me and Denise’s grandparents had a relatively quiet season of life, about 20 years spent growing their business in the original Tacoma location.

Denise Moriguchi:
With the outbreak of the war, my family was sent to Tule Lake internment camp in California. So they had to leave their business in Tacoma and went to California.

Gina Colucci:
Tule Lake was one of 10 concentration camps built to imprison Japanese-Americans forcibly removed from the west coast during the World War II. It was also the biggest. By the time it closed on March 20, 1946, more than 18000 Japanese Americans had been incarcerated there during the war.

Denise Moriguchi:
And then after the war in the forties, they had to start all over again. So my grandfather heard more people are moving to Seattle versus going back to Tacoma. So he went to Seattle and he opened his first store we mentioned on 422 South Main Street, so just not too far from where we are today. They rebuilt their grocery business, started with a little kind of hole in the wall store. When the next door business moved out, they kind of lease that space, knocked down a wall and expanded their business.

Gina Colucci:
And they kept expanding their business one project at a time.

Denise Moriguchi:
Our first store was in Seattle. We opened a store in south center in the, I think it was seventies or early eighties. We opened a store in Bellevue also in the seventies. We opened a store in Beaverton, Oregon in 1998. We opened a Renton store in 2009. We moved our Bellevue location 2011 or ’12, so where it is right now. Yeah, we remodeled the store recently. So I don’t know what else. Let’s see. [crosstalk 00:11:05].

Gina Colucci:
I was captivated by the whole… There’s just so much history. It’s a quintessential Seattle base, but what really caught my attention was back in the 1920s with your grandfather being a very smart businessman, realizing, “I’m selling these cakes, but now my base is growing,” and I can kind of see that that’s genetically stuck with you, now both of you very savvy business people.

Denise Moriguchi:
Yeah. Definitely, I think we’re proud that our grandparents had insight to really want to appeal to a diverse customer base. But I think another thing we’re really proud of is that our grandparents always made sure the community and the customer were really… They were the most important thing that they wanted to focus on.

Gina Colucci:
I asked me and Denise how they think about their customers today.

Mia Moriguchi:
We talk a lot about our two kind of groups of customer base. We call them the loyalists. The ones that I’ve known as grown up with us, kind of know the cuisine and we know exactly what they want to be buying, and maybe they’re very loyal to certain products like you said. Then we have the explorers who really are discovering new things all the time. Frankly, you can have somebody that does both. They may know very much about Japanese food, but are learning about Vietnamese foods or something like that. But for the explorers, we really want to make sure that they’re getting information and understanding and learning about new products and seeing new things. Then for the loyalists, we want to make sure they have their staple product for a good price, good selection, make sure it’s in stock, but also maybe introduce them to some new things.

Mia Moriguchi:
We talked a lot about customer flow. We recognize we’re in a very urban environment being in the heart of the Chinatown international district, but we are a grocery store. So to the south, we have the parking lot, and a lot of people park and get their shopping cart and go shopping. To the north it’s South Weller, which is a very more intimate pedestrian street. That’s where all of our food hall vendors, they have small store fronts that open up to that neighborhood. So a lot of the customers coming from that way, maybe they work in the neighborhood, they live in the neighborhood and they’re on foot, and maybe they pick up a smaller shopping basket and getting their food for lunch or snacks for tonight or something like that. So they may have very different needs.

Mia Moriguchi:
That’s a lot of the impetus of why we put the entry there and then had that really straight shot. We call it the spine of our store, which is really connecting produce, meat and seafood together in that kind of one environment. Then connecting from the Weller side a little bit more is from the food hall, all the shops, the small shops there kind of snaking around to the sake and beer to that street and continuous of that. So definitely setting off kind of those two experiences within the same store was a lot we talked about.

Gina Colucci:
If you could have a shopper feel like one emotion or one thing when they walk in here, what would that be?

Mia Moriguchi:
Be transported. Too shocking. I don’t know.

Denise Moriguchi:
We talked internally a lot about East discovery and delight. So in discovery, especially for the explorer and making it easy for the loyalist and we want the whole experience to be delightful for all customers. So we really do, we like that discovery feel. We hear stories about our grandparents. So when new would come to town and they didn’t have a place to eat or sleep and they’d be like, “Oh, go see the Moriguchis at Uwajimaya,” and my grandparents would give them a job and let them sleep on the couch and feed them. So I think taking care of customers and being part of the community is something that was really important to them that’s been passed down. So even though we didn’t meet our grandfather, we just know the values that were really important to him that we feel have made Uwajimaya continue to grow and be part of this community.

Mia Moriguchi:
Being in the Chinatown international district is especially important in the city of Seattle, but also our family. Really it was place of our business for so long. We spend so much time down here looking at design and development and how the neighbor has been changing. It is really being part of that conversation has been really important to me especially, just have such a big stake family wise, community wise, and the city is changing so much that I think it’s really important to be in the middle of those conversations. It’s such a diverse community and clearly with lots of different ideas and thoughts and direction and such, but that’s what makes it so interesting and so vibrant. Going through this project and other projects in this district, you realize there’s no other district like this in Seattle. I would say even across the country.

Gina Colucci:
I know that you’ve gone through the larger part of the renovation. Are there still things that you’re going to add?

Mia Moriguchi:
For sure. Yes. We’re working right now on a more, we call it kind of the secondary signage elements, really trying to connect people with food. So there’s a lot of overwhelming products here. A lot of the questions are, “What do I do with this? How do I cook it? Do I eat this raw? Do I cook it? How long?” So trying to connect people with those foods, and we think we can do that in a variety of ways. One being signage components. There’s some way finding signage, but also here’s so-and-so’s favorite sake, or this kind of tastes like chicken. You should try it, or that kind of thing. So we’re working on that. Some of the signage could be showcasing our local vendors. A lot of our bakery items come from Seattle based, born and raised kind of bakery items. We have the Cakes of Paradise, the hood famous bake shop in here. I don’t know. Do you want to go check out that way? [crosstalk 00:17:11]

Mia Moriguchi:
So we’re in our, what we deemed as our retail street. Here, this is all the products that are much more exciting in a way. We have snacks to our left here with just the tons of varieties of different Asian snacks, rice cake, rice crackers, mochi, all those different flavors, Pocky. This is a more fun environment. I think you talked to lots of kids who grew up in Uwajimaya and this is what I remember. You go to the snack department and you pick out all your [foreign language 00:17:42] and your rice crackers. [crosstalk 00:17:44] Yeah, exactly. So we really want this to be a kind of a very different feeling than when you’re buying snacks and say, you’re buying your fish. So we call this kind of our retail street. So it starts with the Saki and beer and beverages, all of the Japanese teas and different specialty beverages there. It moves into our snack selection, which is piled high with products and a little bit on the messy side where it’s just a different feel.

Gina Colucci:
I definitely get that. Kind of you’re feeling almost like you’re at a street market with the lights and the variety and the colors. Do you have one item that’s still here that you just remember as a child?

Mia Moriguchi:
Oh, yeah.

Denise Moriguchi:
Well the [foreign language 00:18:28], that one right there. This is from… I don’t know how long they’ve been making this. It used to have a toy in it. Now, it has a sticker, but I remember getting this all the time when I was a kid and now I buy it for my kids all the time. I think it’s been around since, oh gosh… I should look it up. I feel like at least over 50 years, if not a hundred years. I don’t know.

Gina Colucci:
Is there anything else that really just like transports you back to your childhood?

Denise Moriguchi:
Oh, that one. This drink over here, it’s like a very popular drink in Japan at fairs and festivals. There’s a marble on the top that’s holding it kind of together and you pop the marble down and it releases the carbonation. So this is a really fun drink we’d have when we were a little.

Gina Colucci:
So when you bring your kids here, they’re kind of experiencing kind of what you did just in a different generation. So what is that like?

Denise Moriguchi:
They’re always so excited to come pick out snacks. My dad used to make me pick up garbage and stuff when I was here, and I make them and I make them do that. So it’s just fun to see them kind of understand this is part of their family and who they are, so they can take pride in it and also help keep it clean. I don’t know. But they just love coming here with me and finding new fun products. They always want candy or some kind of cookie snack. [crosstalk 00:19:53].

Mia Moriguchi:
That’s why I don’t bring my kids here.

Gina Colucci:
A quick lesson in the Moriguchi family tree. Denise and Mia’s kids are the fourth generation. Besides stocking up on candy and picking up trash, they’re too young to be a part of the family business. Although, both Denise and Mia told me that they hope the fourth generation wants to get involved. They feel a sense of duty to keep growing and innovating the business. So the fourth generation is excited to step in and doesn’t feel burdened. Back to the family tree. Denise and Mia are the third generation. There are nine cousins and spouses involved in the company in some way. Denise becoming CEO was the official transfer of power from the second generation, their parents, aunts, and uncles to the third generation.

Gina Colucci:
You have some very powerful women in this family.

Denise Moriguchi:
Yeah. I chuckle often our grandfather was more traditional in the sense that when he did leave the company, he left it to his four sons, even though there were three daughters and four boys. He gave each son 25%, which that was actually kind of progressive for his age because usually it just went to the eldest son, but it did end up with the girls. So I kind of left some days thinking about now how his youngest daughter ended up running the company for several years, and we have a number of strong women at the company from our family.

Denise Moriguchi:
We should note, so our generation there’s 19 of us and then 15 of us are female. The numbers just kind of fell in our favor. So it’s not really that surprising that we have so many women cousins working in the business, but I don’t know. I feel the family is very supportive of it, and especially our aunt Tomoko who’s the youngest sibling who ran Uwajimaya for many years. She’s just very outspoken and won’t take crap from anyone. So I think she really paved the way for us. It’s not so surprising now because she’s already like put them in their place and told them, “Shut up.” Females are here to run the company. So she blazed the trail for us.

Gina Colucci:
Also, you said that was your aunt, but your grandmother who said she was pretty elderly and still getting on the bus coming here to work. That’s dedication. That’s a powerful woman. [crosstalk 00:22:23] Yeah.

Denise Moriguchi:
Yeah. She was really the backbone of Uwajimaya, just kept the place running. When the siblings were running it, there’d be little squabbles, but she would make sure that you remember it’s family and everyone still loves each other. So she was definitely a very impactful force and driving force to the growth of Uwajimaya.

Gina Colucci:
Yeah. Speaking of her, and this is something… She had four children in a Japanese internment camp. [crosstalk 00:22:55] Your grandmother- [crosstalk 00:22:57] Oh, she gave birth to- [crosstalk 00:22:59]

Mia Moriguchi:
Two children.

Gina Colucci:
Can we go a little bit into- [crosstalk 00:23:02].

Mia Moriguchi:
Sure. Yes. My grandmother gave birth to two children in Tule Lake in the internment camps. One, which was my father in 1944. So, yes. Talk about a very strong woman. But she did have four children when they went to Tule Lake- [crosstalk 00:23:24] … and then she had two more.

Denise Moriguchi:
Well, there’s seven total. [crosstalk 00:23:28].

Mia Moriguchi:
No, because [inaudible 00:23:30] Japan.

Denise Moriguchi:
Yeah.

Mia Moriguchi:
Yeah, so they had another daughter who was in Japan at the time and then came back and joined. So there’s seven total siblings, all of who grew up in Seattle, went to Garfield High. So we’re very rooted in Seattle.

Gina Colucci:
Wow. Japanese internment camps is not something I learned about until I was older and it’s not something that’s talked about that much, which is very unfortunate because we need to learn from that. How do you feel about it and how do you kind of… Have you told your children about it yet?

Denise Moriguchi:
So my father went into the camp, I think when he was around six and that’s the age my son is now. So I look at my son and think, “Gosh, how would he manage it?” But we have talked about it. There’s been a lot more awareness. I feel like in the past several years, but it’s something my grandmother never wanted to talk about. It was kind of a period she just wanted to put behind her. So I learned about it in school as well, really.

Mia Moriguchi:
Tule Lake’s really interesting. It’s the No-no group. From what I remember, you had two questions you were asked. Do you pledge allegiance to the U.S.? And if you had the chance, would you go back to Japan? And if you answered no to both of those… Would you stay in the U.S. or something like that. So it was like if you said no to both of those, they sent you here. So really, I think if the war extended, many of those families would have been probably sent back to Japan. So they were treated in a different way too.

Gina Colucci:
The No-no group that Mia mentions, that’s based on inmates’ answers to an infamous, “loyalty,” questionnaire. The survey was flawed from the start. The questions were ambiguous, and just about any answer got you labeled as disloyal. Because of this, Tule Lake became a segregation center and was then under maximum security. It was ruled under martial law and occupied by the U.S. Army.

Mia Moriguchi:
I remember going to California with my family trip to Tule Lake, nothing to see, a barbed wire fence and dust. And I’m sure that’s exactly how it was back then, too. So we did talk about it. I know it wasn’t a intensive conversations by any means, but I think it was something that always he clearly doesn’t remember much as being just a baby, but IT for sure shaped the family and everyone for sure.

Gina Colucci:
I asked how their relatives’ time at Tule Lake shaped their family. Denise and Mia told me that the whole family just worked so hard. It was always about work and family. They saw the impact this had on their parents, aunts and uncles, even though they were largely sheltered from the peaks and valleys of running a family business. Denise and Mia both took on their roles at the head of the company knowing how hard a family business can be. They both agreed the lows are low, but the highs are high.

Denise Moriguchi:
One of our family traditions used to be making mochi. Mochi is like a rice cake, but you have to eat it on New Year’s in Japanese in culture. Now, we can buy it and it’s easily available from other places. But before that, we used to get together the week before… I guess in between Christmas and New Year’s and we come after the deli was closed and we’d all have different roles. Our uncles would be pounding the mochi, so the rice would get into a kind of… I don’t know. What do you call it?

Gina Colucci:
Paste?

Denise Moriguchi:
Paste, yeah. Then some people would cut it. Some people would flip it. I was a young kid, so I just kind of flipped the mochi to help it cool. Then we got older, we would wrap it, put it on the trays and wrap it. So we did that for several years. So we’d do that, we’d eat dinner, we’d stay. I don’t know. It felt really late. It would probably was only like 10 or 11, but we were young. [crosstalk 00:27:30].

Denise Moriguchi:
Then we’d get together for Christmas Eve dinner. We’d get together for Christmas morning brunch. We’d get together for Christmas dinner. Now, since our family’s grown so much, we don’t do it to that extreme. But I just remember those times fondly of everyone being together, making the mochi and working in the store. I remember Mia’s dad out in the parking lot directing cars with his high vis vest and my dad would be pushing carts. The holiday is definitely our busiest time and we all just kind of come and help. My brother works in the fish department in the holidays and it’s a fun time.

Gina Colucci:
Hey, what’s your favorite item you can only get at Uwajimaya? Head to Seattle Design Center’s Instagram post for this episode and tell us about it. Inspire Design is brought to you by the Seattle Design Center. The show is produced by Larj Media. You can find them at larjmedia.com. Special thanks to Michi Suzuki, Lisa Willis and Kimmie Design for bringing this podcast to life. For more, head to seattledesigncenter.com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media. If you’re looking for inspiration, come check out the Seattle Design Center in Georgetown. We’re open Monday through Friday nine to five. On the next episode of Inspire Design, we get a look at Tom Douglas’s favorite place to cook, his home kitchen.

Speaker 4:
Well, the first day we walked in, the mountains, it was crystal clear out there. [crosstalk 00:29:03] The mountains were snow capped. It was November. It always reminds me of that day we walked in here and then- [crosstalk 00:29:10]. We couldn’t afford the house and we did it anyway.

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