Brooklyn-based firm Studio Tack has recently completed this classy yet cozy interior of this small Japanese restaurant in New York City. Tsukimi offers a modern take on kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The name “Tsukimi” literally translates to “moon viewing” and refers to a mid-autumn harvest festival honoring the moon is at its fullest and brightest.
While a long-held and widely-celebrated tradition, the festival of “Tsukimi” is often a solemn and quiet one, observed at home with family and friends. The themes surrounding the festival, those of contemplation, gratitude, and togetherness, are broader articulations of Chef Akiyama’s and Ms. Lin’s ambitions at Tsukimi.
That Chef Akiyama and Ms. Lin have chosen “kaiseki” to demonstrate a new interpretation of Japanese cooking is no coincidence. “Tsukimi” and “kaiseki” could be two chapters from the same book where ideas of ritual, ceremony, and sequence support central concepts of seasonality and change.
While the design is certainly inspired by Japanese interiors, it is reinterpreted here to avoid indulging in the cliche. Humble but not austere, simple but not lacking, we imagine a space that is elegant and finished.
The design of Tsukimi aids in slowing the mind down, creating an atmosphere that is elegant and finished, yet relaxed and comforting. Taking cues from the process and sequence of the menu, the design aims to create a focused visual field from sequenced and repeated patterns and movement in material.
Precisely arranged along a central counter, diners sit in framed seats, a move that symbolizes concepts of permanence and place. The feeling here is that everything has been designed with purpose – from the menu to your seat to the way staff circulate the room.
Just as there’s a resourcefulness in Japanese cooking (limiting waste and using only fresh, seasonal ingredients), the design of Tsukimi starts by asking “what is here that we can save?” The classic mosaic floor and the exterior facade are worth keeping not only because they are timeless, but because they let the space tell a narrative of change. This is, after all, the very same floor Chef Akiyama walked on when he worked here years ago.
Like the ingredients used here, the materials are of high quality and treated in a way that reveals their natural features. Hand-rendered plaster and unlacquered brass, for example, will age gracefully and naturally.
The lighting is designed to be viewed in the same way the Japanese approach the moon viewing during Tsukimi – that is, indirectly, by looking at its reflection in water or its diffusion of light across the landscape. This interior glow, filtered to the street through hanging dried Pampas Grass (a traditional Tsukimi harvest plant), and corduroy glass will beckon the curiosities of those passing by.