Minimalist London Sushi Restaurant Merges Japanese Aesthetics with Scandinavian Design

“We want to arrive at the maximum of expressivity with the minimum of expression.”
- Katrine Goldstein

Having a location like London’s affluent Chelsea area would be a strong selling point for any restaurant owner. Though, if that location is also on Chelsea’s famous King’s Road, things become exquisite. This is exactly the street Copenhagen-based architecture studio Norm Architects got the chance to create their new project, Sticks’N’Sushi.

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Combining the minimalistic and pure characteristics of Danish and Japanese design, Norm Architects have achieved a sensual balance between simple and functional dining areas while also featuring outstanding dining rooms, such as the “King’s Room.” Capturing the luxurious lifestyle of its customers, the architects created a look and feel that invites international shoppers as well as local families to enjoy an atmospheric meal.

Find out Norm Architects’s approach to Sticks’N’Sushi in our interview with Managing Director Katrine Goldstein.

THE PLUS: To start off – do you like eating Sushi, personally? 
Katrine Goldstein:
Of course! And sushi from Sticks is my favourite. It’s not just sushi – we’re always introduced to new dishes and variations. I love the vegetable dishes – like the Jerusalem artichokes.

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TP: Had you had any contact to Japanese culture or design before this project? If not, did you undertake anything to ‘get in the mood’?
KG:
I believe I speak for everyone in the studio when I say that we’re all very much in love with the Japanese architecture. There is a great familiarity between Japanese and Danish design and just like the Japanese, we try to shape a simple architecture with pure and natural materials. We can learn a lot from their traditions with regards to ceramics, metals and different types of wood.

TP: Tell us about working and designing in a special location like Chelsea’s King’s Road. 
KG:
Chelsea is one of London’s most affluent neighbourhoods and acted as our main source of inspiration. Home to wealthy foreign businessmen and classy celebrities, the area overflows with opulence and grandeur. The Chelsea society likes to socialise. After-work drinks for the young professionals and morning brunches for the ladies. And for those wanting to stay up a little longer, there are a selection of glamorous nightclubs and bars.

TP: How did you deal with keeping the restaurant’s ‘signature design’ while also realising your own style and preferences?
KG:
Sticks’ core customers have a busy social calendar – arranging their week around seeing friends and family. Morning coffees, brunches, family picnics, dinner with friends, and of course a healthy dose of retail therapy. It’s a place where they can easily pick up food to go, book a last-minute table for the family, or share a glass of wine with a friend between shopping. It will fit their life perfectly.

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TP: What else do you know about the clientele?
KG:
When entertaining guests at home, they’re likely to head to the local fishmongers, florists and delicatessens, ensuring the finest quality ingredients. And for those days they would rather not face the kitchen at all, they can enjoy dressing up and going out for dinner, or ordering a good quality meal they can take home for the entire family.

TP: What was the biggest challenge in this project?
KG:
Creating something that would express the sense of quality and depth while working with a largely monochromatic but richly textured and finely detailed. The fusion of Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetic – both with an emphasis on natural materials and carefully crafted details – ensured that every element was thoughtfully considered. We selected both traditional and modern elements to achieve an overall sense of contemporary luxury and refinement.

TP: What do you like about simple and minimalistic interior design?
KG:
Minimalism is not a modern style, it has been the norm in many cultures all over the globe since the beginning of civilization. Reduction and perfection have been the main goal for both craftsmen and inventors – because avoiding the irrelevant means emphasizing the important. All too often people, think of architecture and design in terms of added grandness.

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TP: How do you see architecture?
KG:
We find that it is often the plain or the reduced that is most striking. In our work we aim for a geometrical purity, a simple naturalness and a humble authenticity for a spatial sense of calm and repose. We want to arrive at the maximum of expressivity with the minimum of expression. We try to balance the visual, the tactile and the sensual to create an unusual but harmonious experience.
 
TP: Some of the dining areas are quite bright, others like the bar area are rather dark. Tell us about this balance and interplay of light in the restaurant. 
KG:
We wanted to create clear transitions between the floors – the dark and cosy lower ground, where the King’s Room is located and ready for private dinners, and the walk to the first floor, which, with its light tones, high windows and wooden Dinsen floors, carries a sense of a classic English tearoom. Sometimes you need the contrasts in order to fully appreciate a feature and that’s exactly what happens as you move between the floors.

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TP: Can you give us some insight into the materials, for example wood and stone types you used?
KG:
We only used natural materials. We used marble in the bar and on the table on the first floor, sinks are made of natural stone and bathrooms are cladded with ceramic tiles. Features of blackened iron were used throughout and either smoked or naturally oiled oak wood can be found all around the space. 

TP: How was it working in a team? Did you have any diverging opinions, and how did you deal with this?
KG:
We always have diverging opinions, but we need to work with the client and their brand as well. The challenges and various needs that occur during a project are usually important in order to really get your head around a project and come up with clever solutions. 

TP: What was or is your favourite element of this project?
KG:
I love the view from the top of the staircase as its graphic features stands out. The sensation as you walk upstairs and the “tearoom” unveils itself. Also our private dining in the basement with the folding screens towards the kitchen. It’s exclusive and cosy.

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