Boutique Design - June 2017 - 34
Chef Naoko Restaurant
Kengo Kuma and Associates:
Kengo Kuma, principal in charge;
Balazs Bognar, project architect;
Aigerim Syzdykova and Adrian
Yau, design team
KENgO KumA ANd ASSOCIATES
ARCHITECT OF RECORD
Lorraine Guthrie Architect
Sadafumi Uchiyama (landscape)
Shikada Sangyo Inc.
Time & Style Inc.
boutiquedesign.com june 2017
KENgO KumA ANd ASSOCIATES
2 Screens play with light
and shade, filtering out
too-bright late afternoon
sunlight and softening
the artificial light.
JEREMY BIT TERMAN (SHIZUKU); J.C. C ARBONNE (KUMA); MIKO HAYA SHI (BOGNAR)
Ditch the sauce, special or otherwise, and head for clean, well-prepared
choices. That's not the latest piece of common-sense nutritional advice;
it's Balazs Bognar, chief manager, Kengo Kuma and Associates' design
philosophy for Shizuku, the Tokyo-based firm's first U.S. restaurant.
For the Asian restaurant, originally a bento box lunch spot, the client
(chef Naoko) had just one design request: Use sudare (bamboo fiber)
screens. The restaurant's small space, at just under 1,200 sq. ft., offered
firm founder Kengo Kuma, Bognar and their team that chance to make
the screens the dominant element. To do that, and not cramp the space,
the screens are suspended from the ceiling in a complex pattern of
loops and curves.
"I designed the restaurant as a Japanese garden. We used the screens
to replace the roles of hedges and plantings to shape the space gently
and obscurely," says Kuma.
For designers, like chefs, versatility is key. Those same screens
needed to perform three functions: filter natural light from the front
window wall; modulate light from artificial sources; and highlight
seating arrangements without interrupting traffic flow.
Making a less-is-more approach not only work but "wow" means
putting in a lot more brainwork and legwork. "We had to test the balance
of number of layers versus the simplicity of character," says Bognar. "The
final version does not have as many layers as one might think. In a small
space, the effect is magnified. The arrangement of the screens was done by
sketching within the team, then by physical model, then digital modeling
confirmation, then drawn and assembled by hand onsite. It's a full range of
analog to digital techniques. But it was all guided by a hand-made ethos."
While the rest of the space takes a back seat to the ceiling-spanning
visual element, it's not any less carefully thought out. White painted walls,
white oak surfaces, a tatami mat platform and a dry rock garden by Sadafumi Uchiyama provide a backdrop for the screens. Various configurations
including bar stools, two-top tables and chairs and tatami platform
seating offer guests a personalized experience that's as elegantly restrained
as the locally sourced fare. Think more miso soup, less gastronomy.