News & Stories

Adding a Dutch Twist to Japanese Traditional Crafts from W's Perspective

Sushi Ukiyo, the first sushi restaurant to open in a W Hotel, quietly stands in one corner of W Osaka. The restaurant interior pays homage to Osaka as a waterway city, expressing underwater as “ukiyo,” a transient world. The goal of this project was to communicate this concept to the guests through W Hotels’ brand concept of “bold, witty, and insider.”

From its entrance to its overall spatial composition, Sushi Ukiyo was designed in a narrow and long space. Once inside, the guest is welcomed by a single slab cypress counter. The idea of this project was to transform the entire wall behind the counter into a work of art. However, due to its spatial characteristic, the guest will not see the art as a whole. Turning disadvantage to advantage, we decided that the enjoyment of this art should be the changing view depending on where one stands. We worked with Dutch artist Lok Jansen, who resides in Hyogo, to create this enchanting piece of art.

Thus began our research for the ideal fabric, which must also be sound-absorbing. Soon we realized that it was impossible to obtain the bold and intellectual visual effects representing the W Hotel brand with existing materials and printing techniques. The breakthrough came when Lok suggested using lenticular printing. Lenticular printing is a technology in which particular lenses are used to produce printed images with an illusion of depth or the ability to change as the image is viewed from different angles. Just like those illusional postcards we marveled at as children.

So far, the idea and mechanism were indeed “bold and intellectual.” But the sound-absorbing effect and the overall quality of the fabric were yet to be reached. It was a small piece of sample fabric that opened up the possibility of creating something entirely original, collaborating with a long-established textile manufacturer from Kyoto.

It was not some new technology or machinery that made this desired visual effect on fabric possible, but the technical finesse and challenging spirit of a Nishijin-ori manufacturer, a traditional textile of Kyoto. The visual effect was created by applying the gold brocade technique of Nishijin-ori fabric and, after many attempts, this completely new material was born.

Up close, the seven-meter mural appears very abstract to guests. As you walk past the mural, X-rayed fishes, plankton, and ripples appear and disappear, depending on the angle. Inciting curiosity of what it looks like in its totality, the art makes a unique contribution to a shared experience, conversation, and time: brilliantly embodying the nature of Osaka’s culture.

The art was installed using an old wall covering technique often seen in palaces and luxury hotels across Europe. Unlike wallpapers that use wall liners, the fabric is applied directly onto the wall. It requires the skill of high-end craftsmanship and expert knowledge. The material is stretched at the joints from all sides with just the right amount of tension to precisely match the patterns.

Lighting also plays an essential part in this project. In collaboration with LPA, we tested the lighting using full-scale mockups to reach the perfect color temperature and lighting angles. Now, the dynamic and mystical effect of the fabric can be admired day and night.

Sensitivity that embodies boldness with intellectuality; Osaka’s culinary culture that centers on communication; innovation of traditional craftsmanship. The beauty of their fusion is on full display behind the counters at Sushi Ukiyo.

Projects > W Osaka

Related > How does “Art Program” work with branding concept?