Eating with the change of seasons
Washoku is authentic traditional Japanese cuisine, which is quite different from those influenced by Western and Chinese cooking styles.
Restaurant brand Seiku is dedicated to offering first-rate authentic Japanese dishes. It pursues to let guests feel the subtle changes brought by different ingredients and seasons in seemingly repetitive cooking style, and constantly strives for perfection. Its meticulous attitude towards cuisine to some extent reveals Zen philosophy. Its Omakase menu, which uses seasonal fresh ingredients and is updated accordingly, enables diners to perceive the lapse of time throughout the year.
Project name: Aokumo, Beijing & Seiku, Shanghai
Project location: Huali Building, Beijing; BFC, Shanghai
Project area: 80 sqm, 120 sqm
Completion time: May 2021, July 2021
Design firm: Nature Times Art Design Co., Ltd. (Instagram: naturetimesart)
Creative director: Wei Jinjing
Interior finishes design: Wei Yaocheng, Guan Haoyuan
Interior decoration design: Zhang Huichao, Lin Yushi
Lighting consultant: ENLIGHTEN LIGHTING DESIGN / Ding Jie
Photographs: Lu Fenfang (Aokumo, Beijing); Wu Jianquan (Seiku Shanghai)
Pursuing the original flavor of food
Tradition Japanese cuisine emphasizes the fusion of food and dining environment, and presents the simplicity and beauty of things. The simple, natural and tranquil ambience subtly stimulates guests’ sensory experience and perception. Entering the immersive space, diners will temporarily forget about noises in the outside world and gain inner peace. At this point, it seems that they are able to touch the outline and texture of time and feel its trajectory of flowing slowly in space.
Aokumo is a sister brand of Seiku, based in Dongcheng District, Beijing. While inheriting the culinary craftsmanship of Seiku, it redefines the authentic traditional Japanese cuisine. The Chinese meaning of the brand’s name “Aokumo” implies two contrasting aspirations — entering and withdrawing from the secular world, which are not contradictory but somewhat carry chivalrous spirits.
Sited in Beijing, the historical city with strong cultural characteristics and lively, business streets and lanes, Aokumo mainly offers Kaiseki cuisine (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner). Originated from the tea ceremony, Kaiseki cuisine that the restaurant serves appears purer against the backdrop of the hustle and bustle of the city. It emphasizes on the dining atmosphere, to evoke diners’ multi-sensory experiences in the space.
Behind the curtain at the restaurant’s entrance area is a gray space. The twisting circulation route gradually alleviates guests’ restlessness. After entering this space, the diners will immediately get relaxed and immerse themselves in tranquility.
With no redundant decorations, the compact tatami-style private dining room is wrapped by rattan mats. A long window opening is carved out to create enframed view, which embodies Oriental philosophy. The floating art installation above the table echoes the inaccessible deep area of tea ceremony space. In the balance between emptiness and enrichment, the vastness of universe and the smallness of individuals are both revealed in the room.
The purity of space and the authenticity of cuisine convey Oriental charm, which is elegant, wonderful, exquisite, and appealing. Meanwhile, the introduction of landscapes and the implicit spatial narratives all embody Oriental philosophy.
Hidden in The Bund Finance Center (BFC). Seiku, Shanghai is tinted with a soft tone brought by the large area of warm-color stone finishes. Beside the low-key entrance, a green pool featuring a water curtain is embedded. Walking inside along the gleaming path beside the pool and turning around, the guests will capture an artistic scene of stones and flowing water.
The passage is characterized by restrained lighting and a large area of blank surfaces, with dim lights guiding the guests. Light penetrates Japanese papers and spreads out in the space. At various heights and in the forms of points, lines and planes, the light sources explore more possibilities for the relationship between people and objects.
Washitsu rooms are wrapped by weaved rattan materials matched with blunt painted stone artworks, while the counter seating area utilizes Japanese papers as wall and ceiling veneers, which bring out a tranquil atmosphere. The overall space is a fusion of Japanese Zen style and minimalist Oriental aesthetics. The end area in the private dining room presents an avant-garde scene formed by gold foil, which echoes the character of modern Shanghai and brings unexpected playfulness.