February 21, 2019

Red Design Looks to the Sea for Western-Japanese Fusion Restaurant Umi in Shanghai

The new Western-Japanese fusion restaurant Umi landed on the 4th floor of the luxe Swire Properties mall in Shanghai, but its inspiration can be found far below that. Accessed via a private lift across from a modern Zen garden terrace, complete with a covered walkway, Umi was named after the Japanese word for ocean, and shimmers with aquatic aesthetics.

Oak wood frames contain copper and brass screens, which divide spaces and reflect light throughout the restaurant. Photography by Seth Powers.

“I wanted to create an underwater experience that was not tacky or themed,” says design partner Michael McGirr of Red Design, which conceived the 4,300-square-foot interior and 2,200-square-foot exterior.  

A private dining space offers tables and chairs by Champion Design + Furniture, before a custom art piece of brass-finished wire mesh, which pays homage to the shape of oysters. Photography by Seth Powers.

Material selection was key: Travertine floors in matte finishes reference coral’s nubby texture, while copper details and rich navy upholstery further the maritime vibe. “The light fixtures reflect the colors found from deep sea life,” McGirr says, “and their magical translucency highlights the deep blue tones found at the depth of the ocean.” The team even fashioned ersatz oysters for wall sculptures. “The brass finish glistens off the iridescent pearl lighting,” McGirr says. “They are compositions you could not find in any other space in the world.” Even in a high-end mall or 20,000 leagues under the sea.

A solid walnut top and pink marble front form the bar; behind it, panels of copper and oxidized steel rotate to create a rippling effect. Photography by Seth Powers.

Floors are granite in a combination of polished, honed, and raw finishes. Photography by Seth Powers.

Traditional dining chairs swap wood spokes for brass, which complement the tables’ brass tops and legs. Photography by Seth Powers.

Local artists created the pendants, which resemble schools of jellyfish. Photography by Seth Powers.

The entrance screen is teak fixed by brass rods, with a logo made of laser-cut brass on the right. Photography by Seth Powers.

What else is new? Projects in China and fine dining restaurants are on the rise.

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