Recently at the H Hotel on Sheikh Zayed, my friends and I decided to try out Okku lounge and restaurant which is located on the first floor. As we made our way past the magnificent lobby and up the regal staircase, we admired the attention to detail the architects and designers had paid to creating this hotel. Before that night, I hadn’t heard of Okku and was not sure what to expect but after walking in, I was pleasantly surprised by the place and enjoyed my evening there. We had ordered several dishes and mocktails and along with appreciating the ambiance, I was also content with what was served.
Okku had an interesting feel to it because despite being modernly designed it also had an undertone of Japanese to its space. Soft music, delicately designed interiors spaces and its minimalist but also extremely balanced design gives it the instant appeal. The style itself focuses on the zen principles, which according to Japanese design, creates balanced and thereby special and mentally calming spaces.
Inspired by this restaurant, I will share with you basic ways to achieve balanced environments – whether in your home or a public space like Okku. Bear in mind, that these ideas and principles can be used to create modern and not only Japanese inspired spaces. Let’s get started, shall we?
1) Overall Design Concept
Balanced spaces combine 4 elements: Water, Grass, Sky and Earth. In the case of Okku to signify these elements, water inspired crystal curtains, rocks which lined the floor and visually led the way along with blue, brown & subtle green features were used.
Japanese or rather any balanced space will demand a light, airy and open plan with minimal walls and partitions. Whenever Okku wanted to divide a space, they used crystal curtains as dividers which not only worked great but also highlighted the water and sky elements. Furniture itself were occasionally used to break up portions of the dining area.
A combination of soft, tinted and focused lighting was used to create a dynamic and visually shifting space. This is an element of Japanese design but can also be used to break monotony and highlight different portions of spaces.
Being a space that is not only a bar but also a dining spot, Okku has to be creative when it comes to creating an ambiance for cocktails sippers and foodies alike. The spaces were designed to encourage an enjoyable eating experience but was also intimate and catered to the people by the lounge and bar.
The ceiling was a reflective marble which mirrored Okku and gave the illusion of height and spacious-ness. The flooring was of a wooden veneer, which again is inspired by the materials used in Japan for construction. To bring more authenticity to the space, I would have liked for them to use tatami mats which would have evoked more of the Japanese feel.
The palette chosen works from neutrals and muted tones such as brown, beige, chocolate, white, gold and pink to create a dynamic environment. To emphasize certain features, blues and greens were also employed.
I trust many of you will like to replicate these ideas, so bear in mind that you do not have to create an entire restaurant to achieve this, but rather can do so in smaller areas. Start by doing this in your homes, bedroom, cubicles and other personal spaces and watch yourself becoming more calm, relaxed and rejuvenated.
I look forward to seeing your creations.
Until we rendezvous again,