No Place Like Home

Dash Design celebrates Cleveland with its second iteration of Sage Hospitality’s restaurant, Urban Farmer.

by AnnMarie Martin

Originally introduced in Portland, Ore. within the Nines Hotel, Urban Farmer is a modern farm-to-table concept, the brainchild of Sage Restaurant Group that decided to bring it to yet another burgeoning market: Cleveland.

And who better to bring the interiors to life than those who achieved it the first time? New York-based Dash Design is a firm known for its eclectic tastes illustrated by found pieces from the most unlikely of places.

Cleveland’s Urban Farmer features elements that have become iconic to this growing brand and some that surprise patrons with a dash of the unexpected (such as a dramatic chandelier in the private dining room fashioned from chicken feathers).

“It’s as if a sophisticated Clevelandite and a farmer decided to open a restaurant together. What might that look like?” laughs Jhipo Hong, creative director with Dash Design.

“What we try to do with all our projects is put a little locality into them and really bring pieces that people know of their town into the experience. We want them to understand that this is their restaurant, not something that was just imported in from somewhere else.”

“Every aspect of Urban Farmer in Cleveland is custom-tailored to the people who live, work, and visit the Midwest city, from the look and feel of the restaurant to the locally-sourced offerings that are served there,” notes Peter Karpinksi, cofounder and chief operating officer of SRG. “That ‘keep it local’ mentality was the driving force behind what Dash Design helped us bring to fruition through creative design.”

This was partially achieved through a digital art installation by artist and filmmaker Matt McCormick. The videos located within the main dining area show images of Cleveland’s lakefront landscape or northern Ohio farms.

“Videos can be fresh and updateable and keep a space relevant,” Hong explains. “There’s a level of newness you can bring with video and digital that you can’t with print.” Also towards the entrance is a four-story sign inspired by 20th century neon industrial signage and a faded two-story mural on the building’s exterior.

Dash also brought their signature approach of “collaging” to a higher level with Urban Farmer—mixing and layering shapes, materials, and textures, the old and the new. Vintage carpets and furniture blend together, and the bar and lounge are wrapped with reclaimed wood from local barns, whilst a wall of glass offers views out onto the street.

The Urban Farmer pantry of pickled vegetables and fruits, as well as the I-beam structure, were also brought over into this second location. “The Nines Hotel atrium is about seven stories tall,” says Hong. “We needed to create cozy spaces in that location.” It resulted in the I-beam structure, which resembles a modern barn, also utilized in Cleveland.

The space also boasts an open kitchen and blackboards that tell the story of the locally-sourced food and drink.

“We want our patrons to have a little bit of fun in there,” Hong says. And they certainly do with Dash’s rural chic aesthetic that brings sophistication to down-home fun.