Los Angeles architecture and construction firm Marmol Radziner are renowned for sophisticated residential architecture and custom furniture, most notably the historic restoration of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House in Palm Springs and their desert prefab prototypes. It’s fair to say the firm has left their mark across the Southern California architectural landscape in multitude. But count us surprised to walk through the doors for lunch to discover their signature attention to form, light, and material inside the modest confines of a Westwood sushi hand roll bar.
Diners are greeted with 24-stools surrounding a U-shaped bar constructed with bleached eucalyptus wood; a team of chefs operate from behind the counter with a sculptural bleached rustic white oak “roof” looming overhead with inset lighting illuminating the counter. The mood within is industrial-modern, yet invitingly cozy thanks to the contrasting warmth of wood strategically visible anywhere while seated at the counter. The total effect is reminiscent of the U-shaped diners and izakaya bars made famous in Tokyo, and inspired by co-founding Sushi Nozawa Group partner Tom Nozawa’s childhood memories of homemade temaki (hand rolls).
The counter was a programmatic requirement of the client. The U-shaped bar is integral to the client’s concept of the ‘Original Hand Roll Bar’, with the lower ceiling as an element designed to create an idea of intimacy and to focus the lighting over the diners. The lighting scheme was to have a dark, shadowy outer area and focus all the light on the food and those making it. The warm wood was to provide a visual warm and natural, raw feel to the space.