Award winning firm Andy Martin Architects (ama) sought out the essence of distinctly modern Japanese cuisine in the newly designed Chotto Matte Restaurant. Located in an imposing 60s building at the north end of Frith St. in Soho, London, Chotto Matte distinguishes itself as a sophisticated restaurant with an underground twist.
The brief was to create a very individual Japanese restaurant. The clients wanted to give a younger market access to a quality product that was both affordable and aspiring. The space houses an internal dining area of 450 m², including an approximately 100 m² bar area, and some external dining along the Frith St. frontage.
I wanted to create a truly sumptuous atmosphere without the stereotypical visual references. We looked at the contrast that exists between traditional and contemporary Japanese culture and this duality that exists between the two and have tried to integrate that sense into our design. I think the trip to Tokyo gave me the confidence to move away from the traditional references.
The restaurant can be accessed via a formal entrance off Frith St., where visitors are welcomed into the Reception Lobby featuring a desk made out of a solid piece of lava stone, and ceramic top. From the lobby visitors can choose to enter either the Bar and Sushi Bar, or reach the first floor restaurant through a stunning illuminated spiral staircase.
The creativity of the space lays within the attention to details and the custom graphics that adorn the restaurant’s walls. A fifteen meter long street artwork runs along the full length of the restaurant covered with a hand made slumped glass skin. Andy Martin Architects created a dramatic sense of layering within the space from the graphic wall panels, graffiti abused interventions and artistic signals.
That the layering of both concepts and visual elements was a such a strong and a quite obvious aspect of the all parts of Japanese culture, I seemed to have a constant smile on my face where ever I went and what ever I saw when in Japan.
From sleek fluorescent artwork, to natural Lavastone elements, street artwork and manga illustration, ama created a space that embraces the essence of modern Japanese culture. Andy Martin Architects believes that good concepts should involve in strong collaborations. These are seen from the use of the graphic designers through to several commissioned artists and designers in their work.
The lighting design for the project was done in collaboration with .PSLAB, a context-specific design and manufactory company that is invested in the production of sensory experiences. From custom-made fixture for the bar & dining area, to illuminating the full-wall graffiti mural, .PSLAB transformed the restaurant into a sensorial experience, without lighting it up completely.
The bar lighting elements are installed to create visual continuity in response to the curve of the bar counter. Each element was made to measure, with different dimensions of steel tubes mounted separately to the adjacent beams, suspending from the ceiling at different points when more support is needed.
The style of the bar lighting was carried on to the columns, to disperse the dimly lit glass bulbs throughout the space. The full-wall graffiti mural is protected behind a layer of bespoke glass. .PSLAB designed a custom floor mounted linear lighting system behind the glass, in order to illuminate the graffiti without causing glare.
A unique blend of custom artwork and attention to details can also be seen in the recently completed Ping Pong Stratford Restaurant by Andy Martin Architects’ sister company Superfutures, a new and exciting boutique design consultancy.
Andy Martin Architects is responsible for the creation and evolution of some of Londonʼs popular restaurants including ISOLA, QUO VADIS and MASH. ama works in collaboration with Londonʼs most renowned entrepreneurs and chefs, Oliver Peyton, Chris Corbin, Jeremy King, the Hart Brothers and now their latest project with Kurt Zdesar.