Architects: Alia Bengana + Atelier BEPG
Project: Gourmet Restaurant Yoshinori
Collaborators: Marta Martins, Siyu Shi
Location: Paris, France
Date: September 2017
Photographer: David Cousin-Marsy
YOSHINORI is a gourmet restaurant located in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés just a stone’s throw away from Odéon. The space consists of two floors, a ground floor and a basement. It is characteristic of the neighborhood in which it is located and has a stone and wooden structure, visible wooden beams on the ground floor, and vaulted stone cellars in the basement.
Yoshinori Morie is a Japanese chef who makes gourmet French cuisine while bringing to his dishes a balance of flavors, presentation, and technique that are very characteristic of his background.
The vision of the architects was to interpret this cultural blending in the conception of the restaurant. They researched an element specific to the Japanese aesthetic culture: the art of wooden screen panels.
This traditional Japanese handwork is based on the repetition of a triangular pattern in which motifs are sometimes inserted, which also communicate meanings and wishes. They then made this pattern the central theme of the restaurant’s interior design: it appears on the walls of the ground floor, it becomes transparent in the stairway railing, and it changes scale and shape transforming itself into a diamond motif for the openwork screens and the glasswork of the semi-open kitchen.
The screens are given a modern update thanks to digital cutting on lightly bleached MDF oak-plated panels. All of the openwork screens, such as the railing and the glasswork in the kitchen and basement, have been inserted into a steel structure that was oxidized in order to highlight the raw material, which contrasts with the wood’s lacelike quality.
Major construction was carried out to remodel the existing space. There were many demands that had to be met in a space that only measures 70 m², which was a former pizzeria. There were to find places for the kitchen equipment, storage, carts, a refrigerated wine rack, and, of course, the tables and seats.
The openwork screens, the cornerstone of the project, were crucial in allowing the architects to define spaces and protect passageways and entrances, creating a feeling of intimacy in every corner of the restaurant.