KINOAN RESTAURANT IN MONTREAL

The latest Kinoan restaurant is is an exploitation of raw materials and and an exploration into the traditional spirit and aesthetics of the izakaya, a Japanese concept of a space that is designed for socialization and stress reduction, an informal place where people gather to drink beer and sake. The design is also a celebration of natural and raw materials as well as a manipulation of space by architect Jean de Lessard. Mr. Lessards  main goal was to explore intimacy in the relationships between people and how they interacted through the different ways that they occupy a space.

The overall space is redefined using fractal geometry and the broken line reworking a box shape to recall the movement of an articulated snake, creating nooks and crannies enforcing a break in contrast between the known/predictable (outside world) and the unknown/unpredictable inside (undulating chaotic interior). Ultimately one feels at home with the warmth of the raw woods and materials that create the space wheel feeling unfamiliar with the changing spaces and ceiling heights that in the end are only enhanced by the after effects of consumption.

“For a space to become Event or Emotion. it must generate it’s own energy. I designed an enclosed space that is totally focused on the business of partying. The design elements are deliberately oppressive or aggressive, so that is anarchic, rough and where we are loudly heckled”, explained Jean de Lessard. The vertical drop in ceiling height of 4 to 5 feet from the front and the rear of the restaurant contributes to the chaotic but cloistered  effect.

The space is a living realization of the interior of a work of origami, since it is composed of triangles of various sizes, crookedly placed in what appears to be a random fashion. The intention is to “feel” in the space with a certain cramped closeness and familiarity where people are in a constant state of physical and visual exploration. The wood used in the interior construction is durable and has an exceptional capacity of resonance and absorption. The irregularity and angularity of the surfaces further deflect sound waves, helping to muffle the ambient noise. This is especially helpful as the space is always full, despite the fact that one must stand shoulder to shoulder.

The raw country tavern-like interior is a simple expression: the furniture and lighting were salvaged from the previous Kinoya, the drawings and graffitis are brash and almost offensive to the eye but they confirm the urban character of the establishment and underscore its purpose over polish appearance.  Kakemono banners that are used to hide the street also perpetuate the Japanese tradition. In the end the soft lighting creates a cozy atmosphere that is utterly human. The smell of wood mingles pleasantly, and appealingly with the aromas of the mouth-watering fare. The design embraces the West, and the Far East beliefs that community spirit, closeness and brotherhood collide in a fun and joyful atmosphere.