East Meets East
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 5/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Some renovations are all about the numbers. For the 5,400-square-foot interior of Nishimura, a Japanese restaurant in a Chinese hotel, CL3 Architects assembled a 4-foot-thick divider, 30 feet long, by using nearly 1,000 sheets of precut plywood. Only after all those sheets were laminated in place could the result be sanded smooth and waxed. According to principal William Lim, such labor-intensive commercial installations are possible in China because of low costs.
The spare interior, which took shape during a phased renovation of the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing, is surprisingly sensuous, thanks to the liberal use of wood. In addition to the plywood divider, bent strips of veneered plywood form the sidewall of the sushi bar. It's screened in front by a thicket of cane sticks planted in a trough of white pebbles—a treatment that reappears between rows of booths. CL3 also played light engineered oak against darker elm veneer.
As in traditional Japanese landscaping, surprises lurk around every corner. Beyond the entry's travertine fountain and reflecting pool, carpet in the dining rooms is textured like a Zen garden's raked sand or gravel. That's a textbook symbol of water, instantly recognizable to the hotel's Japanese guests.