Atria Mall in Mumbai gets a trendy Japanese restaurant with Mizu - Modern Izakaya
Mizu literally means water, so it was natural for Sumessh Menon Associates to ensure a smooth flow of space within this restaurant in a mall
At first glance, the site was a narrow-looking bare shell of shop space – but when you walk into Mizu at the Atria Mall in Mumbai today, you will see its magical transformation into the modern, warm Japanese-inspired space envisaged by Sumessh Menon as per the client’s brief. “Our design philosophy mirrors our food philosophy, which is to ensure that the interiors are welcoming, expansive and have a glimpse of Japanese culture… albeit not ignoring our Indian influences,” disclose owners Vedant Malik and Chef Lakhan Jethani.
Mizu is as much about the Oriental ambience as it is about Jethani’s artistically curated and presented cuisine. Conceived as a contemporary authentic Japanese restaurant and bar, the restaurant is a petite yet lively space that displays modern Asian elements and accessories in refreshingly creative ways. Literally meaning water, Mizu philosophically represents all things transient or in a state of flow – associating with concepts of rivers, plants, seasons and fluids.
Inspired by these elements, Sumessh Menon Associates (SMA) has incorporated traditional Japanese elements that relate to these aspects – such as the koi fish resin filling on the marble bar top and the patent cherry blossom motif used in varying forms of embroidery on the bar stools, as an artwork on the striking custom banana fabric pendants, and as a table-top print.
Since the space was narrow and long, visually disconnecting it into separate spaces was not an option. Instead, the seating and bar area were so planned that there is visual continuity to the space, yet different seating styles and nooks have been carved into the seemingly boxy space.
While one sees a rich synthesis of textures and materials in the interior design of the space, emphasis is also given to accessorising the space meticulously – for instance, an entire wall has been set up with a display of an array of handmade ceramic tea kettles designed by Art Ichol. “It takes inspiration from the ancient ceramic ware from Japan, mixed with modern versions of the same. We made it a point to display Asian elements, even traditional ones – but in modern ways and concepts, like the larger-than-life Asian inscriptions made on the floor,” adds Menon.
Aside from the pièce de résistance, which is undoubtedly the 15ft-long boat-shaped ceiling installation which displays a vibrant artwork, a major nod to the Japanese inspiration includes the Orient-inspired screen partitions, natural wood finishes, concrete flooring with Japanese inscriptions on it, the rugged stone bar apron with carved inscriptions and, of course, the stunning 21ft custom banana fabric light fixture above the bar that is shaped as an abstract fish form. A stone finish wall along one side lends an earthy touch to the ambience, and adding further richness is the plush colour palette of deep reds, fuschias and velvety greys and blues.
Menon found that working with the boxy, narrow space was a major challenge. “Since it’s within a mall premises, natural light was never an option – so we were entirely dependent on artificial lighting all day and night, to create the ambience for the space,” he explains, adding that adhering to mall regulations, timings and strict schedules were some of the other challenges. But SMA was able to overcome all these constraints by designing and zoning as per the smooth functioning and well-thought-out aesthetic aspects of the space.
Art always plays an important role in the drama unleashed by spaces designed by SMA. Here, it is the large 15ft-long boat-shaped ceiling installation which is indeed the pièce de résistance of the space and adds a vibrant touch to Mizu. “It has been customised and made by local artists as a nod to the Japanese inspiration of the space,” reveals Menon.
The secret of Menon’s success over the years is the response to his work from his clients, and the same applies here. “From getting the ceramics handmade by Art Ichol in Madhya Pradesh, similar to what we have seen in Japan (but then again, it’s made in India to ensure that we use local Indian elements such as garam masala in our Ponzu), we are content knowing that we have used the best of both worlds when it comes to design,” say the satisfied owners. “The highlight for us was surely the postcard painting that has been recreated on the ceiling as well as the engraved koi fish on the bar table – small elements to remind us of what Japan is all about."