Oita Soho Modern Japanese Restaurant

The design project by Muzo for Oita Soho Modern Japanese Restaurant in the heart of Soho required a synthesis of aesthetic and cultural elements from London as well as Japan, making use of contrast and shadow, abundant plants and botanical imagery, and striking elements utilizing raw, natural wood finishes.

  • area / size 1,507 sqft
  • Year 2023
  • Type Restaurant,
  • Design project for a modern Japanese restaurant located in the heart of Soho in London.

    The brief was to create a sophisticated, relaxing space with Japanese influences, and carrying some of the identity established in Oita’s first restaurant – informal and verdant, with plants throughout the space.

    The space required more than the conventional approaches of minimalistic modern Japanese design, to deliver a distinct, remarkable experience that is a synthesis of aesthetic and cultural elements from London as well as Japan.

    The colour space of the design relies on contrast and shadow – colour detailing, wood and plants seem to glow with life against the darkness of background and framing elements in black and two tones of traditional Japanese navy. Timberwork is used extensively, stained in navy and ebony alongside striking elements utilising raw, natural wood finishes – and in a combination of organic and geometric forms that reflect Japanese traditional patterns and methods as well as contemporary design.

    The space is abundant with plants and botanical imagery – bringing a sense of exotic night garden or conservatory. Artworks by Imao Keinen featuring birds in seasonal settings with plants and flowers feature throughout, furthering the theme – Keinen’s masterful use of colours is utilised to play with the décor palette – introducing flashes of bright colour that are echoed elsewhere, harmonizing with the greenery and midnight shades to effect a unique, spectral contrast. The effect has almost the feeling of Japanese lacquerware artwork made real – where living forms are presented luminously against the deep dark of lacquer surfaces.

    Backlit paper parasols are placed overlapping in a flowing pattern that follows the stairs – creating a feature wall to surprise and delight leading visitors to the upper level. The warm light of the parasols is accentuated in the dark. Lighting is careful and muted throughout – relying on position and shades. Two mirrors placed parallel in opposite directions reflect the lights infinitely in their depths, adding to the glow and mystery of the space.

    Hexagonal tiles with geometric lines resemble traditional Japanese fabric patterns in the customer WC, combined with wood texture and continuing the delicate lighting – to create a calm but sophisticated rest space.

    Design: Muzo
    Photography: Sara Hibbert