Text description provided by the architects. The brief we were given called for an exclusive Japanese restaurant and bar in the northern suburbs of Athens. Within the extensive, open-plan space we needed to combine a sushi bar, a cocktail bar and seated dining areas with chic, polished design that would take diners seamlessly from intimate evening dining to more upbeat, late-night socialising.
Other than combining the various areas in one space and with one language, we also had to create intimacy beneath a 6m high ceiling. The double height space represented a significant acoustic and atmospheric challenge. In terms of the design concept we also had to find a way of delivering luxury to an exclusive clientele whilst staying true to our philosophy of honest, holistic design.
To design with luxury and exclusivity in mind we looked to traditional Japanese architecture for inspiration. The traditional Japanese house often featured an internal courtyard garden for private use, an enclosed and intimate retreat. ‘Karesansui’ or ‘Zen’ gardens feature various arrangements of rocks, pools and gravel raked in patterns that inspire a peaceful harmony.
We used the height of the ceiling to create our own inverted garden with triangulated ‘rocks’ represented by the bar and the large dining table on the restaurant floor and the 2 RGB lights within the ceiling. Suspended, undulating MDF panels ripple like the raked gravel of the gardens or the water of the ponds from rock to rock, bringing the various areas of the space together.
The quality of the space is not only felt physically through the materiality or by its aesthetics. Sound is one of the key elements of our multisensory design palette and we collaborated closely with our acoustic engineer to ensure the noise from the various areas of the space did not conflict. Each suspended MDF panel within the ceiling topography has been lined with acoustic insulation so that the space beneath is luxuriously intimate with exceptional acoustic performance throughout the night. The careful acoustic engineering allows the fully occupied space, accompanied by music that increases in tempo and volume as the night progresses, to maintain a luxurious calm and a sense of harmony throughout the space.