Bringing together all forms of design

By Cathy Lee Posted in: Celebrate StyleImprove

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday in one of my favorite ways: dining out with family and friends. One of the dinners was at one of my all-time favorite restaurants.

If you haven’t been to the new Nobu Honolulu yet, you should go. The space is beautiful — airy, sleek, elegant and modern. It’s not just the visual feast that greets your eyes when you enter, it’s the wealth of small details that keep you riveted.

Straight, contemporary lines mix with organic shapes and curves. A low table carved from the trunk of an old tree retains its muted grays. Nearby, a towering sculpture mimics the shapes of mushrooms sprouting from a tree.

I loved how simple slats of wood formed a wave, and how at sunset, they were backlit and the restaurant glowed. But what struck me most was how the design mirrored the food: sophisticated yet simple, like the elegant creations on stark white plates, but with the sum of the parts adding up to so much more.

Here’s an example. You can see the undulating wave of light-colored wood in the photo above, but what’s not shown is a nearby section of chocolate-colored charred noroshi wood. The juxtaposition mirrored my favorite dish, Nobu’s classic black cod saikyo miso. The charred-skin cod against the light lotus chips, the dollops of sweet miso glaze, the bright pink pops of myoga — everything was done to delicious perfection.

As a designer, I love it when restaurants put as much thought into design as they do into food. Of course, the most important part of a celebration is the people you’re with. But being surrounded by family and friends in a fan tastic atmosphere is always the icing on the proverbial cake. Somehow it just makes the food taste even better!

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Visit cathyleestyle.com.