June 14, 2021

Michael Hsu Pays Homage to Japanese Tradition in Uchi Miami

Material and textural contrasts shaped the overall design vision for Uchi Miami. Photography by Chase Daniel. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Hsu and his team brought to life an extension of the lauded Austin-based Japanese restaurant, Uchi, in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Uchi Miami, which opened late last year, reflects the attention to detail characteristic of Japanese design and craft traditions, from artful sushi rolls to layers of carefully selected wood. We looked at Japanese wrapping techniques—how gifts and even vegetables and fruits [are wrapped],” says Hsu, noting that the space offers endless moments of discovery. “A lot of architectural inspiration centered around rope and string and tying things together—in doing that we really loved the material paradoxes,” he adds. The front entry, for instance, features a custom wall of concrete blocks seemingly held in place by interwoven cotton rope and created by local artist Vas Bets. 

Like the surrounding neighborhood, custom artwork adds touches of whimsy throughout the restaurant, from a hand-drawn chalk mural depicting jellyfish above the sushi counter to custom woven lighting fixtures that seem to float above the tables. “We wanted to create a sensorial experience,” Hsu continues, pointing out that the team incorporated organic materials and biophilic elements, such as vibrant plants, in the space, which offers a mix of intimate booths and communal seating. As for the lighting, Miami’s prolonged sunlight posed a particular challenge for the upscale eatery. For a more subtle effect, Hsu cloaked the glass facade in drapery, creating a mélange of tonal textures and hues that breaks up the natural light while creating an air of mystery, much like a carefully wrapped box tied with string. 

Visitors immediately encounter a custom wall made of concrete blocks and rope once inside. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
Rattan booths offer diners privacy. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
Woven light fixtures designed by Warbach are featured in the lounge, dining room and bar. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
Curved banquettes and booths exhibit interwoven seat backs, reflecting textile traditions. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
Walnut and ash create a focal point in the bar area, reinforcing the notion of contrasting elements. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
A hand-drawn chalk mural by artist Sam Angus Jackson above the sushi bar depicts jellyfish. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
Hand-woven wall hangings by local artist Elan Byrd adorn the walls of the private dining area. Photography by Chase Daniel.
The overhead custom basket light subtly illuminates the space. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
The bathrooms reflect the geometric forms and material palette throughout. Photography by Chase Daniel. 
Guests are greeted with a custom brick wall created by local artist Vas BetsPhotography by Chase Daniel. 

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