For the new L.A. Poke restaurant, which serves Hawaiian-style Poke Bowls, in the Mitte part of Berlin, Ester Bruzkus Architekten has designed an interior without resorting to predictable or sentimental iconography.
“We were inspired by the chill mood of the American West Coast,” says architect Ester Bruzkus. So the design idea was to make a Poke restaurant that was as relaxed as a day at the pool. Using color and material contrasts, the architects playfully toy with horizon lines, framed vistas and surprising one’s expectations.
The interior design of the L.A. Poke makes use of contrasts of thick and thin, sharp and soft, curved and straight, rough and smooth. Vistas and views framed by plaster arches bring the eye deep into the space, define open and intimate spaces, and tease the sense that there are mirrors, even though there are not. Another playful use of symmetry is the horizon line that bisects all front rooms exactly at eye level. Here, Ester Bruzkus Architekten play with color and texture: below the line, perhaps it is the pool that is recalled, with blue shades in the Le Corbusier color outremer gris, smooth texture, custom tubular steel furniture and reflective horizontal surfaces.
Above the horizon line, on and the walls as well as the ceilings, they use the color terre sienne pâle, this time on a rough surface, which suggests the summer sun striking a clay wall – Le Corbusier describes it as “sandy, subtle and restrained.” The two color zones are connected by round outdoor glass lights that sit exactly on the horizon line.
In the seating niches, guests dine on tubular upholstery in Yves Klein blue; the shape is soft and round like an air mattress. In the central room, a large custom table with a red metal frame supports a black-and-white terrazzo top as a colorful and surprising contrast. “I enjoy working with unexpected moments of surprise,” says Ester Bruzkus. “This brings excitement to the interior.” This attitude is also reflected in the rear of the restaurant: on the walk past the kitchen to the washrooms, one is entirely enveloped in the intense glow of the same Yves Klein blue as the seat cushions – on the walls, ceiling and floors. The contrasting bright red toilet rooms are a total surprise. The lively black and white terrazzo is used again as a surface for the sinks.
Besides one wall ornamented with a neon script, the only decorative elements in the restaurant are large plants in terracotta pots – and the colorful palette of the poke food choices themselves. Resisting the temptation to resort to predictable narrative decorations, Ester Bruzkus Architekten’s characteristic contrasts of round and straight, thick and thin, restrained and lush, give the interior a playful, relaxed and opulent feel.