Opinion by Richard Baird
Omakase Room by Tatsu is a unique sushi dining experience located on New York’s Christopher Street. The concept is rooted in the family traditions of Japanese Executive Chef and host Tatsu Sekiguchi that dates back centuries and the celebration of the individual, personal and traditional. This can be experienced in the restaurant’s unique and intimate setting, one that seats only eight, and a menu carefully crafted by Tatsu Sekiguchi for one evening and for that specific group of eight.
The restaurant features a light interior design of wood and fabric. Materials a few but high quality, the ceiling is low, and the design of the table and layout of chairs lend the restaurant an earthy material quality with little distraction. Together these establish a sense of calm and an intimacy with the chef and host that centres the mind on the food.
Building on this, design studio Savvy developed a multi-sensory brand identity, with a similar restraint, materiality and discretion. This offers something of its own subtle character but does not detract from the food, while also working in small thoughtful details such as scent and semi-transparent paper that links type with interior. The project included menus, stationery, business cards and ceramic gift.
Savvy effectively channel the conceptual and material qualities of the restaurant. These are literal and observable, but also subtle and visceral. The former really comes through in the fabric of menu cover and that of the seating, and in the semi-transparent qualities of rice paper which draws in the material of its surroundings.
The visceral comes through in the development of a scented ceramic disk, a collaboration between Savvy, ceramic artist Perla Valtierra and conceptual perfumer Barnabé Fillion. This is gifted to diners at the end of the evening with the intention of allowing the experience to linger after leaving the restaurant.
This disk changes color and scent according to the season, and is described as being created to attune diners to the five Japanese seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter and doyo, an 18-day period of transition that falls in between each of the other seasons. The first essence is pure hinoki, a cypress tree native to Japan, prized for its woodsy, citrusy scent that grounds the body but opens the mind spiritually.
Much like the restaurant’s high quality materiality but stylistic restraint, Savvy’s choice of fonts, which pair the free brush strokes of font Kouzan Gyousho with the generous spacing of Avenir, finds a balance between character and discretion, and channels something of New York’s architectural signage, and the calligraphic craft and individuality of the East. These are subtle but discernible details, that balance the aesthetic and conceptual.
Generous kerning and typesetting which plays with the linear and the justified, manages to draw on the interior geometric and linear build. The balance between open space and blocks of text, the space between lines and letters, offers pause, there is direction the way to read the words, and by extension, experience the food.
Colour palette, like material choice, type and typesetting, draws on interior. It has a neutrality that avoids distraction. Colour and detail comes exclusively from the individual ingredients and complete dishes, and the bright singular colour of the scented disk that intends to leave a residual impression. More work by Savvy on BP&O.
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