Yellow FeverWill Speros • Photography by Undine Prohl • May 10, 2017
Mike and Kelly Kim, founders of California’s Asian-American dining concept Yellow Fever, pride themselves on their brand’s high-quality, locally sourced cuisine. When the restaurant’s popularity pushed the couple to launch a second outpost in Venice Beach, they wanted it to stand out while still honoring those principles. To do that, they tapped Hunter Fleetwood and Mariapaz Fernandez-Trillo, partners at Los Angeles-based Fleetwood Fernandez—the firm that crafted the brand’s original location in Torrance.
“The design aesthetic was intended to resonate with Mike and Kelly’s fresh, locally sourced menu of bright and bold flavors,” Fleetwood says. “The new space aims to blend the diverse cultures found throughout their menu with the energy of Venice Beach, while still retaining the cool and playful atmosphere of the original location.”
Instead of a logo or signage, Fleetwood Fernandez dressed the façade in a yellow and black abstraction of rice bowls. The pattern wraps the side of the building and provides a visual connection all the way to the rear patio, which is outfitted with concrete blocks, stained cedar, and a dining table also equipped for ping pong.
“Mike and Kelly wanted the outdoor space to become a relaxed community meeting place,” Fernandez points out. “It is surrounded by native greenery to help shield views from the surrounding parking area.”
A relaxed ambiance permeates through the sun-drenched interior. Wood—mostly Douglas fir—detailing evokes refreshing minimalism. The key plywood element spans a variety of dining areas, serving as a communal table that transitions into a bench and finally into an elevated platform atop which a single table is installed. Serpentine wood seating embraces “the linear nature of the space,” adds Fleetwood.
Throughout, thoughtful details tie the space together, including yellow and gray geometric wall and ceiling panels styled to resemble overflowing rice bowls and used to insulate sound. Locally sourced metal chairs and stools are a simple addition, and lightbulbs that dangle from the ceiling at varying heights add warmth while also changing the scale across each dining area. To bring in the nearby coast, local artist duo Kozyndan collaborated on the restaurant’s whimsical beach mural.
Minimal signage is displayed inside as well, save for menus and a playful neon wall fixture displaying the brand’s tagline, “Be Yellow.” “From the beginning we aimed to integrate not only the color but also the attitude,” Fleetwood says, “and a little humor.”