Aji by Hanabi
WITH A METAPHORICAL GLASS RIVER THAT COURSES THROUGH ITS HEART AND A GRAPHIC BACKDROP THAT CHANGES COLOURS TO MIMIC THE CHANGE OF SEASONS, THE JAPANESE BUFFET RESTAURANT AJI BY HANABI IS A FEAST FOR THE EYES AND PALATE.
For Hanabi, a Japanese dining chain popular for its all-you-can-eat buffets, the decor of its newest outlet, Aji at Vivocity, is surprisingly chic. The visual delight begins at the entrance, where a welcoming curved wall gently seduced passers-by into stepping beyond the threshold. A strip of tempered glass panels on the floor lit from below and extending along the corridor before disappearing under a cut-out in the curved wall, piques further interest. These design elements, coupled with the raw tactility of the chiselled marble walls, powerful brushstrokes of the two large format artworks, and sensuality of the koi murals that flank both walls, are a study in understated Japanese aesthetics.
Once inside the main dining space, diners are greeted by a sushi bar to the right, above which are six while acrylic panels adorned with graphic silhouettes of cherry blossom trees, LED lights behind the panels pulsate in a calm, rhythmic manner, changing colour from red and orange to white and blue. Symbolising the change of seasons, but with a timeframe condensed into the space of a few minutes, this quirky feature “is inspired by ancient travellers in Japan who returned to their hometowns and villages against a backdrop of changing seasons,” says Alvin Kong of Jiang Design Studio, the firm that orchestrated the interior. The cherry blossom motif, in black, white and pink, is repeated throughout the restaurant on items like menus, drink coasters and chopstick paper sheaths. Alvin took the motif one step further by creating a stylised, wooden lattice wall feature in the private dining room that resembles the intricate pattern of tree branches.
The glass panelled strip flooring, which cuts across the main dining area, is made of three layers of glass with the middle layer artistically shattered, lending a shimmering effect when lit from below. This is echoed in the glass-topped dining tables, which have been treated with a high-gloss spray paint on the underside to give a metallic sheen. Alvin’s unwavering attention to detail, and the cohesiveness with which these details are put together, forge an atmosphere where the pleasure of gorging oneself on sushi and sashimi is enhanced by the crisp modernity and whimsical twists offered by the interior.
FORM Magazine, Vol 2 2007, Pages 134-135, Annex A