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Bamboo forests and art of food preparation inspire design of Japanese restaurant overlooking Thames

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London architects Sybarite have collaborated with a Japanese fashion giant Onward Holdings to create an authentic Japanese soba noodle restaurant overlooking the River Thames.

Located on The Strand, Yen invites diners “to step off the busy street into an all-encompassing Japanese experience” created by the design team using Japanese materiality, design cues and construction techniques.

The concept of the design is built around Japanese cultural interpretations of nature and space, as well as the “art and theatre” of the twice-daily preparation of traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles by the restaurant's master chefs.

In a design statement, the firm said: “High ceilings emphasise verticality and light, and a timber treescape structure inspired by bamboo forests to recreate a tree canopy effect.

“Meanwhile, the Japanese wood of choice, maple, has been positioned in varying thicknesses and tones around columns and across the ceiling and together, the contrasting widths of the structure allow a play of light and shadow which give the vast space a sense of both depth and intimacy.”

A lightweight floating timber staircase is the centrepiece of the space, connecting the entrance to the main dining floor below. Each timber section was carved from a single block of maple timber using artisanal carpentry methods and a hidden steel skeleton supports the cantilevering structure.

At the base of the stairs, a white cobbled garden has been constructed, featuring a 6m (20ft) tall bamboo sculpture.

Other typically Japanese features include a sushi counter formed from yellow cedar timber; perforated maple window screens at the entrance to the mezzanine level; a goutenjou (coffered) ceiling in the private dining room; metallic hand-painted wallpaper chosen for its leafy textures; and floors inspired by Japanese tatami matting using Bolon woven vinyl flooring and black rubber trims.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver a design that respects and celebrates traditional Japanese craftsmanship while creating a contemporary and timeless backdrop to host the capital’s next restaurant destination,” said Simon Mitchell, co-founder of Sybarite.

Yen was founded by Onward Holdings as a sister restaurant to an establishment already running in the St Germain de Près area of Paris. The conglomerate is best known for its apparel businesses, with its portfolios including the Joseph and Jil Sander fashion brands.

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London architects Sybarite have collaborated with a Japanese fashion giant Onward Holdings to create an authentic Japanese soba noodle restaurant overlooking the River Thames.
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