newsletter link
mondo arc

Aaya, London


Lighting Designer Jonathan Coles has collaborated with David Archer architects to create a spectacular space in London’s latest Japanese restaurant, Aaya

Gary Yau has stepped out of the shadow of his brother Alan (of Wagamama, Hakkasan, and most recently Cha Cha Moon fame, also featured in this issue) with Aaya, a stylish Japanese offering in London’s Soho. Designed by David Archer Architects, the space and concept explores a new avenue of dining culture where the preparation and consumption of food is both presented and enjoyed as a rare and precious natural commodity in an environment as holistically and carefully conceived as a fine jewellery store. At Aaya however, it is the preparation and display of raw fish that is given elevated status. 

The interior design created to support the menu explores themes drawn from the traditional temples of Kyoto and the ingenuity and attention to detail of their modern equivalents, the flagship retail stores of modern Tokyo. This results in a contemporary version of the traditional Japanese izakaya, where many dishes are informally served alongside sake.

Jonathan Coles Lighting was commissioned early in the development to work with David Archer Architects to create inspirational spaces on the ground floor and basement of the site. 

The design of the ground floor restaurant features oak columns, beams, slatted ceiling panels in dark wood, and tatami materials.

Coles’ challenge was to be able to bring out the fine details of the interior whilst creating a warm and intimate dining space within the large room. This was achieved by the introduction of ultra warm white LED strips to ceiling grilles, uplighting beams, floating furniture, and full height screens. This is combined with tables lit from low visibility narrow beam bronze downlights from Candela Lighting fitted with GE lamps. The result succeeds in taking the room to a human scale and bringing out the colour and texture of the interior materials.

In all, over 600 metres of LED strip from Disign Co. has been integrated to the scheme which can be dimmed from the Lutron LCP128 dimming system. Lutron and CW Lighting worked closely with Jonathan Coles to ensure control of the 64 channels,  dimming LEDs, cold cathode, fluorescent and tungsten loads, were all set up on programmed scenes that gradually change the restaurant as the day progresses.

Full height glazed screens with ribbed glass and smoked glass interlayers have been set into dark oak frames with integral LED strips creating important ambient lighting features. The lighting for the panels was first tested in full size prototype panels, a design stage that Coles is always keen to complete.

The focus of the ground floor restaurant though is the ten metre carved wood wall and the same length internally illuminated glass bar.

Projectors have been installed within one of the beams running over the bar and these have been designed with custom-made gobos and glass breakup diffusers. The resulting effect produces a soft cascade of water and an illusion of a seemingly molten carved wall. Projectors are Optikentics 250s fitted with custom metal gobos from DHA/Rosco.
Playing and creating illusions using light come naturally to Coles, and his ingenious approach is evident in this project. The bar is lit by cold tri-phosphor cathode from Avenue Signs on Mode Neotrans to allow dimming on late evening scenes. The bar was also tested with a full width prototype so the correct lamp design could be produced.

The reception is dominated by a large bespoke pendant (designed by David Archer and manufactured by Jonathan Coles Lighting) with embroidered silk designs inspired by traditional Japanese Kimonos.
The ribbed glass infinite depth walls flow around the reception and down to the stairwell where they produce a magnificent six metre tall cube of reflected and refracted light.

The lower restaurant space is more traditional Japanese in many ways, having a long glass Sushi counter for preparation, seated dining along one wall, and intimate alcove seating around the perimeter. The rear wall is decorated with the Kimono flower motif that has been obliquely lit to bring out the full pattern. 

Inspired by traditional lanterns the bespoke wall lights in bronze, handmade paper, and brass wire appear to light the room and give an amber hue suitable for the space.

The Sushi counter dominates the space with its ten metre chilled glass displays. Lit along its length by custom polished steel stems with Cool white Luxeon focused light heads from LightGraphix. The scheme emphasises the colours of the raw fish against the white marble. 
Four bespoke bronze and embroidered silk shades punctuate the length of the counter and provide a flash of fuschia from the internal silk.

Jonathan Coles Lighting has produced a visually powerful and technically advanced lighting scheme that works seamlessly with David Archer’s design giving the client an exceptional restaurant.


Related Articles


Follow us on…

Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Twitter Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Facebook Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Linked In

mondo arc india

darc awards DWLF IALD PLDC LRO