It could be in Tokyo, New York or London, which was precisely the design brief for this high-end Japanese restaurant and lounge the latest addition to Dubai's glittering entertainment scene

View of Okku Japanese Restaurant in the Monarch bar, darkness, musical instrument accessory, restaurant, black
View of Okku Japanese Restaurant in the Monarch Hotel, Dubai

In a city as large and as wealthy as Dubai, it takes a particularly innovative design approach to ensure a new restaurant stands out from the crowd.

For Okku Restaurant in the Monarch Hotel, interior design specialist LW Design not only had to design a hip and trendy Japanese restaurant and late-night lounge the company was also asked to create a cosmopolitan atmosphere where guests would feel they could be anywhere in the world.

Designer Morten Hansen says LW Design worked closely with founders Markus Thesleff and Ramzy Abdul-Majeed to design a concept that would set the restaurant apart from other venues in the city.

"The brief called for a bar with a lounge area, a sushi bar, restaurant and private dining areas, as well as a full working kitchen," Hansen says. "The biggest challenge was to try and fit all the client requirements into a compact space. We overcame this by introducing a number of different levels, including a mezzanine floor. The differing levels also create interest and help to define the various areas within the restaurant."

Hansen says the entry and a raised bar area set the scene for the entire restaurant. "The overall atmosphere is dark and dramatic, with special lighting features creating visual interest. The experience starts right at the entry, which is flanked by gas flares."

View of Okku Japanese Restaurant in the Monarch interior design, lobby, brown, black
View of Okku Japanese Restaurant in the Monarch Hotel, Dubai

Key lighting features at the bar include a fibreoptic curtain, an over-scaled aquarium with live jellyfish, and candles that appear to float suspended in mid-air above a water feature.

The designer says these lighting elements needed to be offset against a dark background this determined the material palette.

Dark, highly-grained timber planks feature throughout the bar and restaurant, bringing a rich warmth. Timber also features on the flooring, along with black riven slate. The walls have a dark, polished plaster finish, and there is a black granite bar and sushi bartops and dark wood tabletops. Hansen says most of the joinery is in natural ebony or dark-stained oak, and is contrasted by leather-clad seating in natural tones.

"The inspiration for these furnishings came from the typical Japanese approach, where interiors reflect the colours of nature," says Hansen.

The main part of the restaurant is semi-hidden behind the giant floor-to-ceiling fibreoptic light curtain, which spans almost the entire length of the restaurant to form a glittering backdrop to the dining experience.

View of Okku Japanese Restaurant in the Monarch interior design, lobby, brown, black
View of Okku Japanese Restaurant in the Monarch Hotel, Dubai

A staircase with decorative, dark-painted wrought iron balustrading leads to the mezzanine level, and the private dining rooms.

"These were designed to present a modern version of traditional Japanese tatami rooms," says Hansen. "Panels and sliding doors clad in a silk fabric with a Japanese cherry blossom design reinforce this look."

The panels and sliding doors also provide flexibility. Rooms can be closed off to create intimate dining areas, or opened up as required.

Story by: Trendsideas

14 Sep, 2010

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