Architect Dan Brunn’s newly designed Japanese restaurant Yojisan introduces a refreshingly whimsical and modern touch to the neighborhood. Instead of pandering to existing Beverly Hills clichés, Brunn steps through the looking glass with Yojisan as sushi signifiers are upended. The result is a simple yet substantial visual impact inspired by traditional Japanese materials, culture and lifestyle.
Diners experience Yojisan through a narrative of allusion and light. This subtle surrealism begins with Yojisan’s façade, which beckons guests to enter through a threshold, subdivided by delicately intersecting planes. The façade appears as if it were metallic; however, as diners come closer they are met with a succession of cedar planks that melt seamlessly into a seductively slim signage.
Upon entering Yojisan, diners walk under a floating rug of leafy plants that spring from the ceiling and lit from above. This design simulates a Japanese forest dreamscape unique only to the restaurant. Counterbalancing the lighter design features of the restaurant, are several grounding elements for diners as they approach the host desk and sushi bar. Comprised of sturdy reclaimed wood and board-formed concrete, these areas of high activity are given a sense of permanence and echo the rustic exterior materials.
Beyond the host desk, the ceiling unexpectedly makes way for two giant, inverted bento boxes that highlight the central dining areas with a reflective red finish and provide a warm, emanating glow to diners below. Underneath these deftly hovering volumes lies a sea of custom-designed tables forged through a special process of bluing, akin to famed Japanese tools. Diners are surrounded between two unique and purposeful walls.
The existing sandblasted brick wall reveals a warm russet material, which can be seen through a sheer curtain that softens the space and attenuates noise. Running opposite this wall is a dramatic array of angled light coves evoking dynamic bamboo shoots that culminate at the ceiling. Each luminescent strand is clad with a custom-formed cloth and plastic composite. This wall provides the main circulation artery for Yojisan and evokes the sensation of traversing through a field of illuminated stalks by playing with negative space.
Photography: Taiyo Watanabe
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