Sergey Makhno Architects brings the taste of Japanese culture to the forefront of Ukranian hospitality with its latest restaurant project – Fujiwara Yoshi. Striking lighting design helps zone the labyrinth-like restaurant space.
Standing at 800sqm, Fujiwara Yoshi is the largest Japanese restaurant in Ukraine. Designed by Sergey Makhno Architects at the request of chef Fujiwara Yoshihiro, the restaurant is a maze-like space that promotes the culture of Japan, with the aim for its guests to ‘get lost’ in its greatness.
The labyrinth stretches past a terraced garden, with panoramic windows filling it with a flood of daylight and lighting pieces by Makhno floating seamlessly underneath the black ceiling. Fixtures including the minimalist Gemini, the ceramic Runa, and the Lakuna floor lamps – made in the form of the chasen (a whisk for matcha tea), project light directly to the guests’ dinner plates.
The garden throws shadows around the seating area, while the alley of Bonsai trees – introduced from a small town near Tokyo – lead to sea-life and freshwater aquariums with a bulky table for tuna processing behind.
The space also encompasses a sushi bar – designed by the Makhno team and featuring large Fuji pendants. Ordinary lighting was not an option for this space, instead there are chimneys in one tatami-room and a plump copper flower in another. For business lunches, there is a separate dining space with wooden walls, floor and ceiling for the perfect acoustics, while in the large banquet hall, under the poppy-heads of lights, a table threads across the room.
In yet another area of the restaurant, sitting under bamboo chasen sprout-like fixtures, soften-cream sofas and chairs line the tables. Everything in this restaurant has been specifically made for the space. Next to them, the tempura and robata grill zones can be found and in tatami-room #3 the sky stretches out on the wall and chairs, while ikebana tickle guests with flower branches.
As most Japanese restaurants are low-key, small and cozy, the Makhno team paid a lot of attention to the layout in order to be able to host 250 guests at the same time. And yet, for the chief architect, Illia Tovstonog, “there is an atmosphere of coziness and peace of mind.”
For various reasons, the project took more than two years to complete, however the designers kept their original vision throughout. “Our main task was to communicate Japanese philosophy but without shouting about it using clichés,” says Tovstonog. “The design reflects Japanese ‘coziness’ but read with a Ukranian soul.
“All the lighting at the restaurant adds exclusivity and authenticity to the interior. We set the right mood for the entire space, keeping a logical chain for the visitors and allowing them to be inspired.
“There are no rules when it comes to being creative; except for one – make it real. For example, on the terrace, the Gemini, Runa and Lakuna light fixtures are placed at different corners to accentuate the importance and individuality of each one. While the Shpon fixture at the sushi bar is used to create an imaginative roof upon the separate part of the restaurant.
“The Dymar and Kvitka light fixtures, located in separate tartami-rooms, have been used to draw the eye and encourage people to notice the beauty around them. We then used the Makivka lamps in the banquet hall to add an exclusive flavour to the celebrations the space will hold – making the space even more special. All of these decisions result in the restaurant giving the feeling of being surrounded by real beauty.”
For Tovstonog, the lighting used for the restaurant is what makes the project so special. “It can dramatically change the space,” he tells darc. “Here, aesthetics waltz with functionality – pipes become lamps, flowers grow from the ceiling and moss from the plates. It is a place to rest your eyes, hold your breath and savour Japan.
“This project was really special to me; Japan is my place of power. I fall in love with the country every time I go and I always want more. As such, I was happy to put a piece of my love for the country into the heart of Ukraine.”