Quebec company evokes post-war elements in the design of local Japanese restaurants

Seeking to create a space conducive to the discovery of Japanese cuisine, chef Frédéric Dufort and his team called on Cleo Katcho Design Architectural to design the new Montreal restaurant Iru Izakaya. Photo courtesy of Francis Champoux

Seeking to create a space conducive to the discovery of Japanese cuisine, chef Frédéric Dufort and his team called on Cleo Katcho Design Architectural to design the new Montreal restaurant Iru Izakaya.

After immersing themselves in the history of izakayas, small Japanese pubs where sharing small plates is typical, the Boucherville design team opted for a design approach that would juxtapose the modernity of the place with its roots.

The concept was inspired by the post-war alleys where the izakayas were established. The design was designed to contrast soft and hard, hot and cold, sparse and sophisticated, to create the sensory experience the team set out to achieve. The lighting interventions in this project contributed to the achievement of this objective.

The space, which already had some architectural elements for the team to work with, needed to include separate sections. By using different types of lighting and seating, the team was able to create several spatial transitions in a large open space.

The first section features a series of alcoves, the front section is reminiscent of an alley, while the bar area is characterized by a lantern-like structure, a tribute to sake protocol. The VIP section offers a distinctive visual experience, thanks to the use of multiple lights suspended from the mirrored walls and ceiling.

The division of space has been made to allow concentration on the central architectural element, the bar. The connection to the kitchen was also an important aspect to consider in the design, as its sights, sounds and smells all help recreate the closeness typically associated with the experience of traditional izakayas.

The team’s ultimate goal was to create a unique, functional and ergonomic design to reflect the client’s vision and values.


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Rozella J. Cook