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Italy: Maurizio Lai designs a new Sushi Club

A new idea of space to set the food experience of an Asian restaurant in Milan

The Italian architect Maurizio Lai shapes the spaces of the Asian restaurant Sushi Club in Cesano Maderno, Milan, as a scenographic backdrop within which to enjoy a renewed gastronomic experience. An immersive space, characterized by dark colors, lines of light and a theatrical atmosphere, with a clever use of ceramics to emphasize the lighting project. Research, interior architecture and design to rethink the expressive canons of Asian dining.

The project is spread over a considerable space of two floors and is characterized by a large central light installation, accompanied by light geometries that create an effect of depth and dynamism. Ceramics are entrusted with a critical role, not only in terms of composition and for the effectiveness of performance, but also for the skillfull usage of maxi-formats with wood and concrete effect. 

Sushi Club project was awarded on the occasion of the ninth edition of “La Ceramica e il Progetto” in the Commercial category. The prize promoted by Confindustria Ceramica - the Italian industry association - selects the architectural projects that have stood out for their originality and skill in the use of Italian ceramic coverings.

Sushi Club: a new concept for restaurants
Design intended not only as an experience, a generator of shapes and atmospheres, but also as a tool that contributes to the creation of a recognizable brand. This is the Sushi Club project, born from the encounter between a young food entrepreneur and Maurizio Lai's ability to give a new shape to a phenomenon, in search of a place and an interpreter.

Now in its fifth expression - each one located in the North of Italy - the constellation of Sushi Club has transformed the very concept of Asian gastronomic experience, inserting it into a completely new aesthetic and formal context. It is an exemplary case in the manufacture of "accessible luxury" experiences, through the exclusive originality of the built environment and its atmospheres. 

A bold proposal, which has changed the Italian panorama of Asian dining in suburban areas and beyond, leading an entire sector to pursue new expressive standards through research, interior architecture and design.

Sushi club in Cesano: the interior project
Maurizio Lai conceived the spaces of the Sushi Club in Cesano Maderno as a real scenographic backdrop, choosing a compositional language that is resolved in the material dialogues, in the design of the volumes, in the diffused lighting that culminates in the large central light installation.

The restaurant is spread over an area of about 1000 square meters, distributed on two levels. The interiors are characterized by a chromatic continuity that favours warm and dark tones, in contrast to the scenic use of light. On the vertical surfaces, luminous inserts define a precise metric, increased by the ceiling installations and further amplified by the wall mirrors of the main room. The dark / light dichotomy is resolved in elegant, welcoming and refined environments.

On the ground floor, a flexible distribution of the furnishings leaves room for different compositions, while on the upper floor large panoramic windows help to make the atmosphere even more suggestive. The dialogue between materials and light accompanies all the environments, including the stairs and passageways, where the same immersive atmosphere that reigns in the rest of the room is maintained.

In Lai's project, the furniture, the luminous bodies and the scenography of the installations are designed by the architect and handcrafted: every detail becomes a fundamental element of the whole, in a game of references, balances, oppositions and contrasts.

The luminous installations
The space is marked by the constant presence of orthogonal luminous signs, which accompany the guest starting from the entrance: from here you proceed towards the rooms in a theatrical atmosphere defined by thin luminous lines integrated into the walls. At the center of the space, an installation inserted in the void obtained between the two levels becomes the protagonist of the rooms: the almost full-height sculpture, made with backlit extra light glass blades, is embraced by mirrors that amplify its perception in every direction.

The use of ceramics
Ceramics are given a critical role, not only for the effectiveness of performance, but above all for the ability to contrast the expanded lighting project, through compositional and chromatic choices.

The porcelain stoneware floor coverings follow the warm and dark tones of the rooms: both the aged wood effect tiles by Ceramica Sant'Agostino, BLENDART Gray collection, which recreate painting superimposed on the wood grain, and the concrete effect tiles by DSG Ceramiche - a division of porcelain stoneware by Decoratori Bassanesi - in the CONCRETE collection, chosen in the large format for the coverings of the stairwells and landing areas.

Project arch. Maurizio Lai
Photo credits Andrea Martiradonna and Matteo Guidetti