Coming Soon: SAAGE Culinary Studio, Home Base for Artisan Food Businesses


We’re so pleased to introduce you to our latest project under construction: the SAAGE Culinary Studio, a shared-use kitchen and educational space for culinary artisans in Naperville, IL.

SAAGE Culinary Studio is the brilliant idea of food entrepreneur Gayatri Borthakur.  As a producer of spices, teas and gourmet gift packages for her specialty spice blend business, Curry’s Kitchen, she knows just how challenging it can be to find available space to support small food producers.  After years spent trying to find the perfect place to host her business, she’s decided to create it … and share it with other small food entrepreneurs.   Her concept is to create a home base for those businesses with shared kitchen space, storage and everything a start-up food business might need.  The SAAGE Marketplace at the entry will display wares to customers.

saage logo

Working with Gayatri and SAAGE, we’ve created a design that supports that vision, with a versatile retail display area for goods, a gathering area to host demonstrations, cooking classes and parties, and a series of interlinked functional kitchen areas to support catering, baking and other food prep needs with ease.  Permits have been pulled and SAAGE is moving forward with construction so we look forward to giving you photos of the finished space in the future.

Pioneering projects like SAAGE need all the help they can get.  If you’d like to support SAAGE, get in on the ground floor by contributing to their ongoing IndieGoGo campaign to help fund some of the specialty equipment and construction processes.


From the very beginning of the process we wanted to incorporate an element of mobility and unit-based display into our design.  Since SAAGE is going to be a home for many different food businesses, we worked to ensure that each person and group would have their own discrete display areas and be able to quickly re-load or re-configure them!

early design concept


We use Pinterest extensively in this early phase of a design project, both to exchange concepts and precedents with our clients and to tag relevant ideas for ourselves within the office.  For SAAGE some key inspirations came from the casually smooth wrap of bleacher seating in the Counter Culture Coffee Training Center by Jane Kim Design.  We were also drawn to images of clean lines, light stained wood and interchangeable or unit-based display shelving.  Click on the image collage below to jump to our Pinterest board for the project.

pinterest images


The retail area needed to be both front-and-center for maximum exposure but also easily securable so that all the food-stuffs on display there can be protected during non-retail hours.

The Front Kitchen is intended primarily as a gathering/educating space so our proposals for that area were open, clean lined and surrounded by areas to sit and observe.  Once we had our basic design concepts in place, it was time to turn to precedents.

layout sketches


In both of those front-of-house areas we proposed  to brighten the space with light colored  and clear stained plywood elements.

For the retail area that meant a shelving system of display boxes which can be turned forward to show off one vendors collection of wares or flipped backwards to hide storage areas or fill a temporary blank slot.  The back of each box is a colored plywood panel which lends constancy to a display system for many vendors.

retail area

For the Front Kitchen we wanted to make sure that the tall space doesn’t prevent communication between demonstrators and students.  We lowered the ceiling height over the demonstration area with a series of plywood panels, supported on joists spanning across the space.  This custom drop ceiling also conceals mechanical systems and houses light fixtures in this area.

More SAAGE Culinary Studio news will be coming soon!  Watch this spot for updates on construction and the final photo shoot before opening!