JOI-Design created rustic yet refined, modern yet timeless interiors for the refurbished restaurant Wilde Ente, which translates as "wild duck," as the first milestone in the studio's extensive renovation of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Iserlohn, a city in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state. Located in an idyllic stretch of grassland by Seilersee lake, a favourite spot where locals mingle with guests and enjoy outdoor recreation, the foodie destination sets a new benchmark for the region and offers an amusing nod to the pesky mallards that shamelessly overtake the adjacent miniature golf course and surrounding terrain.
The freestanding building blends sympathetically with its environment, from its existing stone façade to the natural feel of the new interiors. The design was created to reflect Wilde Ente's ethos of using high-quality, seasonal products from the region, including its own beehives for harvesting honey and cultivating ancient apple varieties. The result is a down-to-earth restaurant with a comfortable flair, modern industrial touches and an easy-going, young-spirited atmosphere as suitable for casual weekend lunches as it is for private parties or the live streaming of important football matches.
The structure's maisonette-style layout runs across two storeys connected by a self-supporting stairway. On the ground floor is the restaurant, a small retail section, a bar accessible to indoor clientele as well as those relaxing outdoors, the kitchen and the bathrooms. The restaurant continues with a handful of additional tables at the gallery level above, forming a space that, along with the outdoor terrace, can accommodate private parties. The soaring ceiling and loft-like feel emphasise the generosity of space and create an interplay between guests on the different levels.
Distinct areas accommodate a range of needs and moods. In the dining space, rustic timber tables invite guests to linger over a relaxed lunch or dinner, whilst taller tables for guests to stand by the bar create a more social atmosphere. Beneath the stairs are soft seating, stools made from mixed timber scraps, and plenty of blankets and cushions, which together form a cosy "living room" nook for warming up with hot chocolate or mulled wine by the contemporary black fireplace.
Ventilation pipes and cables within the structure are intentionally exposed and strengthen the restaurant's rustic yet contemporary signature. This industrial style continues through enormous steel-frame windows that flood the whole room with light.
Establishing a harmony between the outdoor landscape and the industrial modernity of the materials and palette was essential to creating a balanced design. JOI-Design's solution was to use abundant quantities of restrained, natural finishes such as warm timber tones, flamed black steel, linen textiles, and untreated stone to create a calm, comfortable ambience. Ambient lighting from assorted pendants hung at varying heights playfully connects the two levels and brings a dynamic energy to the space.
The small retail corner offers locally-made sundries as well as those crafted at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Iserlohn, whilst providing tables where guests can perch over a snack or beverage.
The sense of style was not forgotten in the public bathrooms, with the ladies and gents' facilities each offering their own monochromatic flair with shades of black, grey and white that forming a clean, cool contrast to the lively atmosphere of the restaurant.
Photography: Simone Ahlers