Marlon Blackwell Architects dishes out a plywood interior at an Arkansas ramen house

Comfort Food

Marlon Blackwell Architects dishes out a plywood interior at an Arkansas ramen house

The main dinning room features an open kitchen and a long communal table culminating in a plant wall with integral irrigation by Wall Flower Farm. (Timothy Hursley)

Taking inspiration from Bentonville, Arkansas’ local southern fare, CO-OP pairs traditional Japanese dishes with fried chicken. Similarly, the interior also takes cues from the vernacular, layering plywood sourced from regional producers throughout the casual eatery.

The ramen house is the newest addition to the 8th Street Market, a food hall that took over a former meat processing plant that cranked out frozen chicken cordon bleu. To give the sparse space the greatest design impact, Marlon Blackwell Architects (MBA) inserted a coffered timber ceiling that could weave throughout the entire establishment. “Once we decided on plywood as the material of choice, for its warmth, local availability, and ease of construction, we knew that we needed to bring on a singular method of assembly,” said Meryati Blackwell, principal and director of Interiors. 

Rather than opting for an overtly Japanese design, MBA championed light wood, a material commonly associated with the county. “the light wood is a subtle reference to Japanese architecture and also commonly produced locally,” said Marlon Blackwell.

Besides providing visual continuity, the plywood ceiling also functions as a solution to absorb sound. Collaborating with acoustic specialist and professor at The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture, Daniel Butko, the design developed as an assembly of 24” deep waffled timber treatments that isolate noise above the wood panels, preventing it from bouncing back below in the dining spaces.

Read the full walkthrough on our interiors and design website,