Thursday 09 Jan 2014
Dan Brunn Architecture created a surreal, minimalist space for diners to experience this sushi restaurant through a narrative of illusion and light. This subtle surrealism begins with the façade, which beckons guests to enter a threshold subdivided by delicately intersecting planes. The transition from city street to refuge - chaos to serenity - is experienced on multiple levels. The architect elected "to step through the looking glass" with this design, upending ordinary representations of sushi restaurants. The result is a simple yet substantial visual array inspired by traditional Japanese materials, culture, and lifestyle.
Upon entering, diners walk under a top-lit carpet of leafy plants springing from the ceiling. This touch of greenery-along with a strip of river rocks-simulates a Japanese forest dreamscape. Counterbalancing the lighter design are grounding elements at the host desk and sushi bar. Composed of reclaimed oak and board-formed concrete, these high-activity areas exude permanence, echoing the exterior's rustic materials. By combining fantasy with refinement, the designer modernises Japanese restaurant traditions-bamboo, rock garden, bento-with abstraction.
Beyond the host desk, two giant, inverted bento box-like light volumes with a reflective red finish hang from the ceiling to highlight central dining areas and provide an emanating glow to diners below. Situated underneath these hovering volumes lie custom-designed steel tables. On one side, a translucent curtain, which softens the space and absorbs sound, allows the warm shades of an existing brick wall to peek through. Running opposite is a dramatic array of angled, floor-to-ceiling light coves evoking dynamic bamboo shoots. Each luminescent strand is clad with custom-formed cloth and plastic composite. This wall provides the main circulation artery and evokes the sensation of traversing a field of illuminated stalks.
Other design choices successfully overcame the existing depth and darkness, both typical challenges of store-front restaurants. In order to make the long, narrow space appear unbounded, airy, and spacious, an angled ceiling lengthens the area by forcing the perspective toward the back of the restaurant. Suspended bento box-like light volumes that draw the eye upward accentuate the space's height and cast warm light on diners. Additionally, the streamlined furniture in a limited material and colour palette keeps the restaurant visually harmonious and serene. Within a very limited space, the restaurant brings a surreal revolution to a city of tradition.
Dan Brunn Architecture