Architect: Ryoji Iedokoro, Tokyo
The details: To elevate the yakiniku (grilled meat) barbecue cuisine at Tokyo restaurant Nikunotoriko, local architect Ryoji Iedokoro crafted a wholly visceral experience in the two-story space to stimulate the human senses. The second level is a quiet forest retreat from the bustling city, with lush plants forming green walls and steel pipes sprouting from the ground recalling trees. Hooks that imitate branches do double duty as places to hang jackets or bags, while Chabudai tables look like tree stumps. “Nobody can create nature,” says Iedokoro. “However, we can create beautiful design reflecting the nature conceptually.” To that end, flooring mimics the voluptuous, undulating layering of sedimentary rock formations, naturally creating subtle staircases and different levels in the space.
Walls and ceilings in the cave-like ground floor are molded by hand with mortar, and a large mirror at one end makes the space feel endless. Water imagery adds to the natural feeling, where a striking smoked-glass table sits atop 1,000 glass tiles crafted in a dramatic herringbone pattern to “represent a stream of water underneath,” he says. Sculptural metal chairs complete the space while expansive windows on both floors give passersby views into the unique sensory-driven environment that Iedokoro hopes showcases how “design can make a difference in our lives,” he says.