Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

 

Designed by Ste. Marie and tucked into the upper story of a delightfully faded building in Vancouver‘s Chinatown, Kissa Tanto invites you into the little jewel that is the ‘House of Plenty’. First we will eat! Such supreme satisfaction we take from the delicate flavours of Japan and the warmth of ltalian cooking and feel it’s right to bring these culinary forces together to do a little dance. Why not? Soul mates are they not with their mutual love of noodles, rice, and proteins in their pure, delicious uncooked form? Think of the cool elegant crudo and cruda, crisp exotic salads, playful pastas, and rich, tender meats that we shall sink our teeth into. And whilst doing so, we will drink! We will wipe the frost off of the Singapore Sling, inhale the burgundy scent of Barolo, sip tiny glasses of fine sake, and down chilly glasses of beer.

And we will laugh, tell stories, escape to soulful places that only great music can take us, and hold hands in dark corners. So please fix your hair and wipe the mud from your boots and please come in.

 

Related Post: Osteria Savio Volpe Vancouver by Ste. Marie Inspired by a Fictitious Character.

 

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

 

“Our client had a very specific inspiration for her Japanese-Italian restaurant in Chinatown: the vanishing 1960s jazz café, or jazu kissa of Japan. A distinct sub-culture, people would go to these jazz cafes to just sip whiskey and listen to jazz records play all night. Our goal was to elicit that sense of escape, revel in its moodiness, and transport people to a different place and time,” explains Ste. Marie‘s design team.

Taking advantage of Kissa Tanto’s second-storey location, Ste. Marie used the faded Chinatown entrance to foster a feeling of departure and discovery; where people would walk up the stairs and stumble upon this dark, eccentric space that looked like it had been left to develop behind the scenes all this time. “Doming the low ceiling and bringing the lights down helped us create a fairly dark and moody atmosphere in a space where the bar dominates—something central to its ethos was that it be equally bar and restaurant,” share the designers.

Pink vinyl banquettes, tilework based off Haruki Murakami book covers, typographic art taken from a Kenji Miyazawa poem, and touches of Italian modernist Gio Ponti all coalesce here in a social hangout that’s romantic, interesting—perhaps even a bit strange — but wholly singular; a direct counterpoint to the fast-casual, light and airy restaurants that currently dominate the local area.

Read on for a little Q+A with Jessica MacDonald, Project Lead and Conrad Brown, Floor + Lighting Industrial Designer, about further insight into this project.

 

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

 

+ What was your design inspiration for this project – i.e was it a result of client’s brief, a particular concept or an idea etc?

Something central to Kissa Tanto’s ethos was that it be equally bar and restaurant. The bar needed to be somewhere where people would want to spend time and dine for the whole evening. The restaurant had to be very warm and comfortable, slightly residential.

Our concept for Kissa Tanto was to create a place for escape and reprise, that transports people to a different place and time. The patron hangs up their rain soaked coat and sinks into the soft pink seating with a Singapore Sling and for a moment they are in a 1960s Japanese Jazz bar or ‘Jazu Kissa’.

+ What are some design details you’ve used – materials, colour palette, etc.?

All of the millwork detailing draws inspiration for the Italian modernist, Gio Ponti’s, furniture. We designed the millwork in the riser area in a similar way that you would a credenzas or buffet. The warm, rich wood tones and shimmery brass of ‘handsome’ furniture, softened by the pink and peach upholsteries and Japanese drapery play in perfect contrast to one another.

+ Your favourite thing about this project?

I think the shop stopper of the whole place is the glimmering bar, filled with old records, knick-knacks, spirits and mid century lamps. It truly is the heart of the place, and the area that pays greatest homage to the Jazu Kissa bars of the 60s.

+ Tell is a little bit about the design of the floor patterns and it’s meaning?

The floor layout drew inspiration from John Gall’s recent paperback cover redesigns for Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The books all have seemingly random lines and shapes, which form unexpected connections between each other, no matter how they are arranged. It’s a rather unusual way to lay out tile (which of course lends itself more towards patterns) but worked out well. Working with the pixellated nature of tile meant that we worked backwards; rather than creating an overall floor pattern first, we instead created a vocabulary of linework and angles that translated well into low-resolution one inch tiles, and extrapolated it into the space. The result let us work outside the strict rectilinear restrictions of tile, which is a fitting way to approach flooring a space inspired by old Japanese jazz haunts.

The metaphor of unexpected connections suits the space well; The cuisine offered by the restaurant is a mix of two continents, and of course we hope that the guests will find some unexpected connections themselves.

 

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

Kissa Tanto Restaurant in Vancouver by Ste Marie | Yellowtrace

 

+ You payed careful attention to the lighting. Tells us about your approach.

The south end of the restaurant has two booth spaces that are quite intimate, a feeling we wanted to play up with the lighting. Our plan was to drop pendants in those coves, swag lamps with an older, more traditional feeling that offset some of the more modernist features of the space.

There’s a common inclination to hide power to lighting in design. Swag lights deal with this by highlighting the cord as a integral part, which we took a step further by styling the cord as a graphic element. When we first saw this opportunity, we tried many different complex patterns, with the aim of turning it into a major feature. In the end we toned it down drastically. By guiding the cord along the wall with a series of brass pipes, each bent to angles that are mirrored elsewhere in the paint and millwork, we found a result that worked with the space as a whole.

+ What was the most challenging aspect, and how did you overcome it?

The main challenge with this project was that it is a second storey walkup. We really played with the narrative of the ‘House of Plenty’ which, if you’re not familiar, there is a restaurant, deep in the woods of Japan that lures 2 hunters slowly inside to be eaten! At Kissa Tanto, there is a drama in the way that restaurant unfolds, from first noticing the sign of the street to walking through the Japanese style curtains at the top of the stairwell. We carefully considered all of these moments and how we would ‘lure’ people in. With every decision and challenge, we return to our philosophy of ‘Experience Over Aesthetics’ as our guiding principle.

 

 

 


[Images courtesy of Ste. Marie. Photography by Knauf & Brown.]

 

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