Last fall, José Miguel Herrera and Nuria Morell closed their popular SushiHome restaurant in Valencia, Spain. Fans and patrons were surprised, but they did not have to wait long for the answer.
In December, the couple opened Nozomi Sushi Bar in the funky Ruzafa neighbourhood of the city.
For interior design and branding of their new venture, they employed Valencia-based creative consultancy Masquespacio established in 2010 by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse.
The founders selected the name Nozomi, popular for restaurants and businesses, including the Japanese bullet train. It is a lovely word with dual connotations. The word itself means wish or hope in Japanese and with the bullet-train implications, it also signifies efficiency and modern lifestyle. The whole project was then envisioned around two concepts, ‘emotional classic’ and ‘rational contemporary.’
In the 233 square-metre (2508 sq.ft) space, Hernández Palacios, creative director for this project, managed to evoke the feel of a Japanese street. “We have been studying photography from the most authentic Japanese streets with the aim to create a reinterpretation on a metaphoric way of those streets,” she says. Nozomi Sushi reminds many people of a typical street in Kyoto where traditional Japanese houses are well preserved.
The best feature of the restaurant is the overall quiet balance. It does not appear to be trying too hard like so many concepts today. Instead, it feels natural and coherent with its light-weight wood slats, shelves and partitions contrasted with the strong and solid concrete features.
We love the entrance where the slanted-roof overhang creates a nice play with scale. The otherwise quite basic doorway now appears both inviting and intriguing.
Inside, the chefs ply the ancient trade of sushi – the original fast food – behind a neutral bar with a fantastic origami-inspired cherry-tree-blossom ceiling above them. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas.
Mention caviar and champagne, and most of us will think of opulent, lavish environments, luxury bling and furs, high heels, tuxedoes.
But not so in Helsinki. Finland-born, Los Angeles-educated and now Helsinki-based designer Jonna Laajisto took the Finnish approach: She focused on creating an understated setting and fitted it to respond to the historical harbour environment. And left out everything else.
Laajisto was commissioned by the Finnish fish and seafood purveyor Savu-Kari to create a caviar (and roe and oyster) shop and restaurant in one of the most enviable locations in Helsinki, Eteläranta 20, overlooking the main harbour where the commuter ferries and sight-seeing boats dock and depart for the archipelago, and right across from the city’s famed open-air public market (Kauppatori) and the recently renovated and re-opened Old Market Hall (Kauppahalli).
She adorned the tiny 45 square-metre (485 sq.ft) space with only the essentials: a few tables, chairs, counter, shelves - all Finnish origin. We love the tiled floors, aged clip boards for menus, minimalist lighting and unpretentious chairs, as it all harkens back to the Old Market Hall feel yet with a lovely modern urban seaside café essence.
The only real touch of color comes from the blue Rocket stools designed by Eero Aarnio and available at Artek.
Finlandia Caviar has only 11 seats plus four more outside (when the snow thaws) and it is also available for private events, such roe-tastings and parties.
Various types of caviar and roe are served straight from the tin, nestled in ice, accompanied by crackers and truffle cream. And of course champagne or vodka.
Jonna Laajisto is also responsible for the design of Minna Parikka Universum, the Helsinki (and only) retail boutique of our favourite Finnish ladies’ shoe brand. It is also an understated, minimalist white shell that offers up Minna’s fun, limited-edition shoes like pearls inside an oyster. - Tuija Seipell.
The interior design of the 80 square metre (861 sq.ft.) space is by Isabel López Vilalta.
We love how the cozy, traditional taverna atmosphere is first achieved with the reclaimed wood, felt-coated walls (great for for acoustics as well as appearance), unpretentious furniture and colorful cushions, and how it is then nicely balanced with the sleek, hard, white floor and bar to conjure up a casual, urban ambiance.
We are especially spellbound by the large, spindly pendant lighting fixtures by Arik Levy. There’s just something adorably clumsy and benignly spooky about them. Plus they remind us of the Black Widow spider lady in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. - Tuija Seipell.
Images: Alejo Bagué.
Chef-owner Heinz Reitbauer is a member of the Reitbauer family that operates the famous Steirereck restaurant and the Meierei café beneath it in Vienna, and the Pogush Country Inn in Styria, in the southeast of Austria.
His family’s latest contribution to the Austrian culinary excellence is the complete and spectacular renovation of Steirereck that consistently places among the top of the world’s 50 best restaurants list.
In 2005, the Reitbauers moved Steirereck from its home of 35 years in Weißgerbe Lände to Vienna, and took up the former Milchhauspavilion, an Art Nouveau or Jugendstil dairy that overlooks the lush Stadtpark and its Wienfluss promenade. They renovated the building completely prior to opening to the public.
In 2012, the owners announced an open competition to, once again, completely re-imagine the storied restaurant to meet the needs of the ever-demanding, world-travelled, upscale restaurant clientele, and to respond to the demands of a busy kitchen as well.
Viennese architecture firm PPAG architects won the competition with its innovative solution that began the development of the new restaurant environment not from a space that will contain tables, but from an individual table and its connection to its surroundings.
In the new pavilion, formed of long, molecular fingers, each table is flanked by its individual wooden background wall and located against an outer wall. This gives every table the feeling of being private but also connected to the park outside and the rest of the dining area and kitchen inside.
This rearrangement of functions and addition of space did not increase the number of seats – it remained at about 80 - but the main dining hall of the old dairy building with its newly flexible configuration of tables and partitioning now provides additional event space, and all of the inner functions of the restaurant, from food preparation and patisserie to washing, test kitchen and staff areas have been improved and expanded as well.
Wood, glass and reflective metal are the main visual elements of the new Steirereck that now nearly conceals the Milchhauspavilion yet appears to take up very little additional space. - Tuija Seipell.
Good coffee was not on an average consumer’s radar in 1971, when the story of the brand now known as Starbucks began. This was the case especially in North America where coffee culture was nonexistent.
That all started to change when Howard Schultz bought Starbucks in 1987 and started its expansion outside Seattle with the first outside the U.S. store opening that same year in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Today, Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world with about 23,500 stores in 65 countries. With the changes in lifestyles around the world, Starbucks’s idea of the local coffee shop being the “third place” between work and home has really become a reality.
Working, meeting and cooperating at coffee shops has become the norm, as has the lingo of special coffees as customers around the world order tall skinny lattes fluently.
What Starbucks has also done is open the market for smaller specialized coffee shops for those markets where the giants don’t want to go, and for those customers who don’t want the same old, standardized stores, at least not all the time.
As a result, we see daily examples of new, stylish, individual and small-chain coffee shops that manage to feel appealing even to the consumers that are by now completely coffeed-out.
And, Starbucks itself creates original concepts to fit special locations.Leaving no market or location un-Starbucked, the brand opened an amazing shop at the main entrance to the Dazaifu Tenman-gū, one of the most revered Shinto shrines in Japan.
About two million visitors a year trek to the shrine, established in 919 A.D. To match the task at hand, Starbucks recruited the 60-year-old Japanese master architect and master of the wooden slats, Kengo Kuma.
Kuma used 2000 wooden slats to weave a latticework structure that encases the entire four-meter (13 ft.) high space, creating a nest or a cave. The latticework reflects traditional Japanese architecture and fits harmoniously among the traditional buildings of the area.
In the last decade, we have covered many coffee shops that stand out. These include D’Espresso
that opened in 2010 in New York and made waves with its startling floors and ceilings covered in images of books. The Manhattan-based designers at Nemaworkshop took their cue from the nearby New York Public Library’s Bryant Park branch and went delightfully bookish.
At the edge of Little Italy on Manhattan, A New Zealand coffee culture is brewing. Luke Harwood, one of the founders of Happy Bones café on Broome Street is also one of the founders of Kiwi fashion brand Stolen Girlfriends Club.
Originally, in 2012, Harwood and artist Jason Woodside satisfied their obsession with great coffee in a space at the back of a retail boutique on Bond Street.
Then Harwood and Woodside were joined by New Zealand’s power couple Craig Nevill-Manning (Google's engineering director in NY) and wife Kirsten (previously of Facebook and Google) and now Happy Bones is its own independent little box offering espresso, art publications and an eclectic mix of retro design pieces.
We love the white-painted brick walls that make the little shoebox seem so bright and clean.
Coffee Bar’s tiny Kearny Street shop by Jones Haydy sits right at the entrance to a large parking garage and caters to the busy people of the Financial District.
It is also located on a stretch of street that has suffered from vacancies and neglected lots, and the store is optimistically attempting to bring life back to the area.
Adorned with lovely wooden walls, some of which are scorched with the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique that prolongs the life of the wood, the shop still retains the slightly rough industrial air with its minimalistic furnishings and exposed-concrete features.
Another San Francisco favourite is the three-location Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery.
The flagship coffee bar, company headquarters and roaster are now located at 270 Seventh Street in San Francisco’s SoMa neighbourhood in a restored building dating back to 1925.
The building remains unchanged outside – it’s still an ugly concrete cube – but the inside exudes the company’s artisanal expertise and obsessive focus on all things coffee.
The fabulous, multi-level building took its new shape through cooperation between Sightglass owners Justin and Jerad Morrison and Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture.
Saint Frank Coffee is yet another great San Francisco renovation, located in the historic Russian Hill neighbourhood at 2340 Polk Street.
The boxy shape of the space is nicely divided with wood paneling and bright white walls that draw the eye to the center of action - the white coffee bar.
Far from San Francisco’s coffee culture, Origo Coffee Shop in Bucharest, Romania, features the same kind of great restored surroundings and smooth expanses of wood paneling .
Local architecture and design studio Lama Arhitectura discovered beautiful wood beams underneath the layers of plaster and these beams became the hanging posts for the 270 teacups that hang above the bar.
The space is a coffee shop by day and a bar by night and the solid-oak bar can be raised from sit-down height to stand-up height accordingly.
Paris is also renewing its coffee culture among stiff traditions and competition. The creative minds at L'Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris set their eyes on “High Coffee.” They don’t call it that, but it certainly looks and feels like it.
Every afternoon, superior gourmet coffee varieties are served accompanied by dainty carts full of mouth-watering sweet delicacies created with the supervision of Luc Debove, Chef Pâtissier of the Grand Hotel of Cap Ferrat.
Adding to the High Tea feel, the coffee is served in the hotel’s deliciously prissy first-floor restaurant, with its magnificent views of Place Vendôme. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it was Florence-based architect Michele Bönan’s first restaurant and hotel project in France.
The two men leading the Paris coffee revolution are Frenchman Antoine Netien and his Australian partner Tom Clarke. They opened their first Café Coutume in Paris in 2011, and brought a cool and playful sense of ‘science’ to the coffee shop.
Clean white surroundings, glass beakers and coffee origins marked in scientific-like abbreviations, such as ‘Gu’ for Guatemala.
They have since expanded in France and recently opened their first Japanese café in Tokyo’s Aoyama district.
To design this store, they invited CUT Architecture that designed their original flagship and the coffee cart for the Finnish Institute in Paris.
The Tokyo store repeats the science theme with white tiles, glass beakers and a lovely pattern of squares everywhere. The ceiling lattice and lighting, the shape of the tables, the shelving, the tiles, all bring a sense of order and harmony. Tuija Seipell
See also The Rise of the Designer Bakery
Texas-born, Atlanta-based chef-turned-restaurateur, Ford Fry, continues to enrich Atlanta’s dining offering.
Earlier this year, his Rocket Farm restaurant group opened its fifth restaurant, St. Cecilia, in The Pinnacle building in Buckhead, in the space previously occupied by Bluepointe.
To design the establishment that has room for nearly 200 in total, Fry selected Meyer Davis Studio http://www.meyerdavis.com/about/ of New York, established in 1999 by Will Meyer and Gray Davis. Fry has used the same studio for his King + Duke restaurant.
Meyer Davis’s work on prestigious retail and hospitality projects includes the revamp of W Lakeshore in Chicago and Paramount in New York, plus Oscar de la Renta’s boutiques worldwide and John Varvatos stores in New York and Las Vegas.
St. Cecilia’s most redeeming feature is the scale and the satisfying feel of pattern and repetition. The first impression is that of order without severity and spaciousness without the unwelcoming feel of coldness.
The space is high, the sightlines clear and wide with lots of natural light. Seating and tables, shelves and bottles, and rows of pendant lighting fixtures all add to the sense of harmony and tidiness, yet there are spots of whimsy and little surprises at every turn.
Bits and pieces of mementoes, old medicine bottles, old books, a plank of aged wood, a darkened painting leaning against a wall, a stuffed bird on a side board.
These details neutralize the newness and create a comfortable visual link to something old and somewhat Mediterranean, an appropriate context for the Italian-inspired menu.
And of course we love the black-and-white colour scheme, always a harmonious back drop for creative sparks.
In addition to St. Cecilia, Ford Fry also operates JCT Kitchen, No. 246, The Optimist, and King + Duke, all in Atlanta. He is rumored to be planning his sixth and seventh restaurants in Krog Street Market and in the Avalon in Alpharetta, Atlanta. Tuija Seipell
Although there is not a samovar in sight – neither anything resembling the ornate boiler of tea water - the two-month-old Samovar tea bar in The Mission area of San Francisco is most decidedly dedicated to tea. This is the fourth Samovar in owner Jesse Jacobs’ little empire (the other three are also in San Francisco), and clearly different from the others which are more traditional tea houses.
The Mission Samovar is a feast for the eyes and soul in its fine minimalist balance. What is NOT there makes this altar of tea-time contemplation so incredibly beautiful. The antidote to the bustling, loud, constantly connected coffee shop, this is “a retreat from the rat race” as Jacobs said in a magazine interview.
In addition to the highly edited selection of teas and scones, the central focus of this Samovar is the peaceful, almost prayerful atmosphere brought out by the exquisite surroundings.
The thick, white walls, against which hefty white shelves are suspended appear old and slightly weathered. And on the substantial shelves, in harmoniously spaced rows, sit the thick, white cups, custom-created by ceramists at Oakland’s Atelier Dion.
These handle-less cups are meant to be cradled in the hand, held and enjoyed, as opposed to held with the pinky pointing skyward, or clutched like a beer mug. These cups informed the design of the store, skillfully executed by the style masters at San Francisco’s Arcanum Architecture.
The limited assortment of black, green, herbal and iced teas plus masala chai and matcha, is not made from dustings out of dangly bags with hot water poured on. Instead they are ceremoniously yet swiftly prepared in a stately row of tablet-controlled, glass crucibles manufactured in Utah by Arcanum Architecture. - Tuija Seipell.
via Spotted SF
Swedish restaurateurs Magnus Ek and Agneta Green started their entrepreneurial careers in 1994 as they rented the small Oaxen Skärgårdskrog restaurant in Stockholm’s archipelago. They taught themselves the ins and outs of wine, food and fresh ingredients, eventually bought the restaurant and started to gain a steady reputation.
But the Swedish winters being what they are, the archipelago location was open only part of the year. Forward the clock from that to last year, and the grand opening of Oaxen Krog & Slip, their brand new corrugated-metal framed and so beautifully aged twin establishments, right at the old shipyards on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm’s city centre.
Designed and lovingly outfitted with repurposed, antique and retro furnishings and materials by architect Mats Fahlander and architect-designer Agneta Pettersson, the restaurants have already gained several prestigious Swedish awards in business, design and food categories.
These include Stockholm’s Restaurant of the Year 2014 recognition for Slip by the Swedish city entertainment guide Nöjesguiden, and Oaxen Krog’s awarded of Business Restaurant of the Year 2014 by the financial newspaper Dagens Industri. Oaxen Krog has already one Michelin star and Slip has won the Michelin Bib Gourmand-award.
Krog is more of a dining room and Slip a bistro. Our absolute favorites in Slip are the lovely finds dating back to fairly recent Swedish history – the wooden 1905-built craft in the ceiling and the single scull from 1920s. The old Swedish school desks, theatre-seating and repurposed tableware create a uniquely welcoming and familiar feeling.
Oaxen Krog is a bit more formal but seats only 35 and therefore retains an intimate atmosphere. Slatted oak covers the walls and ceiling , and the chairs dating back to the 1950 but still in production by the Swedish Wigells surround the tables custom-crafted by shipyard carpenters. As e the smart city set dines on organic fare, we think we can hear some Swedish Old Salty in his blond beard and blue eyes singing a melancholy song or two about the rough-but-oh-so-wholesome life on the cold shores of Sweden. - Tuija Seipell.
We just had to include this little, happy-looking Mediterranean take-away restaurant on TCH today. The reason? It just made us smile. Of course, there are also the clear colors and the use of wood – both features we tend to like.
Valencia, Spain-based Masquespacio completed the interior design and branding for the 40 square-meter (430 sq.ft.) Kessalao located in Bonn, Germany.
Led by creative director Ana Milena Hernández Palacios, the Masquespacio team used a drop of olive oil as the key for the brand’s logo, and combined the German word “Kess” and the Spanish word “salao”, both apparently referring to a cool, amusing boy. We know salao as “salty” and “unlucky” from Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, but it seems the word has a much happier tone in mainland Spain.
Pine furnishings, birch veneer paneling and raffia add both softness and Mediterranean natural elements to the space. To maximize the use of the tiny space, the raffia covering the tall stools hangs down underneath to provide space for coats and handbags.
Kessalao is Masquespacio’s first project outside Spain. - Tuija Seipell
Istanbul, with its magical mix of tradition and everything new, cosmopolitan and local, offers a fertile ground for new concepts and new business ideas.
Nopa, the restaurant and grill opened recently in the Nisantasi neighbourhood, is perhaps not that radical as a restaurant concept, but it has a delicious lushness and richness that appeals to us.
The grand scale and opulence speak of bygone times of train travel, gentlemen’s clubs and important residences. Marble, leather, masculine stone surfaces.
But there is also a cool modern, open-to-the world vibe created by the green vertical walls framing the patio that has a glass roof that can be opened in seconds to create an outdoor terrace.
The House Hotel group is the creator and operator of Nopa, with Istanbul’s hospitality designer darlings, Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Cağlar of Autobahn, in charge of design. - Tuija Seipell.