Sakura Japanese Café & Lounge

As with any space there comes a time when a refurbishment is vital to keeping customers coming through their doors, more so when it concerns the public space of a hotel. Whether a café, restaurant, bar or lobby each contribute to the overall experience of the hotel guest. The brief was for the café lounge to have continuity that flows with the hotel reception and the surrounding spaces.

Malta is currently experiencing a somewhat transient population which requires a universally understood identity. With fresh fish being the main Japanese staple and it being readily available locally makes this cuisine a well suited choice. So the answer was for the concept to merge a fusion of café style and Japanese cuisine. The café had gained a reputation for good value so this was to be maintained and taken aboard as a design consideration. Also to look the other way from the stereotypical formal image associated with Japanese restaurants in the West. The aim was towards a more relaxed informal dining experience. With the menu underway it was now a question of relating this to the interior to create a successful atmosphere.

East meets west a celebration of two diverse cultures, this was the starting point. The Japanese love for beauty and simplicity was the inspiration to work with clean linear lines. Cafe bar influence was used to inject warmth and sociability through the use of colour and pattern. The background palette is made up of dark walnut, deep purple and green tones all part of a timeless design language. Semi gloss ceilings and polished floors were used to open up the volume of the space. On the walls and shades are elegant delicate graphics with Eastern references in a contemporary context on various media of paper, glass and plastic.

The previous bar counter had a significant disadvantage, its size and position dominated the area leaving the customer feeling overlooked by the staff. We learnt from this and focused attention on creating three distinct zones all the while making the most out of the sea views. The inner most zone caters for Japanese dining and overlooks an open kitchen displaying sushi and sashimi, it provides the customer with a choice of seating, low benches, chairs or a high sushi table inviting diners to interact. Divided by bamboo but still allowing visual contact is the light lunch area which provides bench seating. High stools and tables face the sea, a spot for a coffee break whilst power points provide easy access and free wifi. The lighting plays the role of strengthening the atmosphere of each area accordingly from bright and light to dim and intimate.