Tokyo’s Inua restaurant blends Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics

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OEO Studio has referenced Danish cabinetry and Japanese gardens with the layout of new Tokyo restaurant Inua, that’s headed up by an ex-Noma chef.

The restaurant occupies the ninth floor of a building in Tokyo’s Iidabashi neighbourhood and is led by German chef Thomas Frebel, who was previously head of research at Copenhagen’s two-Michelin-star eatery Noma.

Utilising foraged fungi, fruits, bouquets and herbs, Inua – an Inuit phrase for the “daily life power that operates via character” – will serve diners seasonal Japanese dishes that reflect the varied variety of substances which can be sourced with the region’s landscape.

To design the restaurant’s 700-square-metre interiors, Frebel charged OEO Studio with developing an aesthetic that fused his Scandinavian culinary background with Japanese culture.

 

“The end result is usually a contemporary, beautiful and embracing dining knowledge that for Japanese natives is notably Nordic and for friends from overseas contains a palpable Japanese soul,” described the studio.

OEO Studio began by completely stripping back the space, only maintaining its core structural walls and glazed front facade, which has uninterrupted views of the Tokyo skyline.

Square panels of fabric from Nishijin – a district in Kyoto recognized for its creation of textiles – happen to be utilized in a grid-like pattern over the ceiling, emulating the arrangement of Tatami mats in traditional Japanese interiors.

Timber floorboards from Danish brand Dinesen have been installed in the main dining area, contrasted by a short concrete walkway that leads up to the restaurant’s entrance.

This can be centred by a line of geometric styles that are meant to mimic the appearance of stepping stones that lie across pools of h2o in the Japanese-fashion back garden.

While a majority of surfaces have been painted slate grey, splashes of colour are added by a selection of potted plants and chunks of terracotta clay from the Japanese city of Uji. These have been mounted on the wall as art pieces or are displayed as ornaments.

A number of from the fixtures and furnishings have already been crafted with the studio especially for the cafe such as the picket shelving models that front the kitchen and the leather chairs, which had been designed in collaboration with layout firm Brdr Krüger.

According to the studio, the bespoke dining tables are intended to resemble “pebbles softly formed by h2o over time”.

The restaurant is lit by outsized paper lanterns and white, cloud-like pendant lamps designed by artist Celine Wright.

Noma continues to be an exciting destination for foodies– earlier this year the restaurant moved location to an ex-military warehouse in Copenhagen, which was overhauled by architecture firm BIG to feature open-plan dining spaces completed in natural materials.

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