Blacksheep has worked with Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts to devise and deliver a vision for the design of the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan. Blacksheep developed a comprehensive food and beverage strategy for the whole hotel to create an aspirational luxury experience. Instrumental in bringing the concept to life is the creation of Mökki, a fresh new dining experience for the city.
Situated on the third floor of the hotel, Mökki offers a luxury dining experience over three bespoke environments for hotel guests and other visitors. For Blacksheep, the central concept was a celebration of longevity, simplicity and advocacy; three pillars, which have informed every aspect of the design, from the food offering, to brand, touch points and the wider interior design. Blacksheep oversaw the complete guest experience, from naming and branding the restaurant, through to the menu design and staff uniforms.
Set within the Talan Towers - a new mixed-use tower which includes offices, residential apartments and a luxury shopping mall - the Ritz-Carlton Astana sets a new luxury and lifestyle standard in this fast-growing city and provides a world-class destination for business and leisure travelers.
Mökki, celebrates the craft of food, while respecting both seasonality and locality. The interior space has been designed to encourage guests to 'curate' their meals through the zones and stations designed; it encourages grazing and sharing and an overall relaxed and intimate dining experience. The space has been designed to offer a series of 'Craft Stations' that include a Bakery, Deli and Grill.
The entrance to Mökki has been designed to create a sense of mystery and expectation with patinated brass walls. Wide Italian oak plank floors with brass inlay also add to the sense of scale and heighten the anticipation of the dining experience beyond. From here, Mökki unfolds as a multitude of experiences from inspiring Craft Stations to a series of ambient dining experiences.
The interior has been designed to create a relaxed and intimate dining room with continuity throughout, using rich Calacatta gold Italian marble, natural oak, brass detailing and a combination of suede, leather and velvet upholstery that visually elevate the interior environment and connect each of the spaces to form a coherent whole.
There are four Craft Stations within Mökki, which have been carefully curated to enhance the overall experience. Materiality on all stations is consistent, using Calacatta gold Italian marble and brass detailing with grid ceiling looming above. Pendant lights run on a linear strip of brass above all counters, creating both decorative and functional zones within the space.
The Bakery space is an energetic and active station celebrating the baking process through a showcase of kneading, mixing and baking. The bakery countertop is clad with gold Italian marble with brass inlay details and a bronze mirrored front facade.
The floor around the bakery is made up of polished Italian silver Emperor marble and has been introduced by Blacksheep to create warmth and to contrast with the countertop. A brass-clad oven complements the marble clad wall and counter, while round brass fittings protrude from the wall to display loaves of fresh bread and patisseries.
Providing a sense of theatre with a charcoal-burning grill visible from the hotel entrance, The Grill helps transform the restaurant from day to night by doubling as a waiter pass and pick up point for the adjacent dining room.
The Ambient Station
The Ambient Station is used to dispense juice, water and breakfast as part of the daily culinary experience. At other times however, it doubles as a communal table where guests can sit among the stations, surrounded by the energy of the Grill and Bakery.
Guests are invited to 'curate' their meal through a selection of cured, matured and smoked goods at the deli counter. A glazed pantry of cured meats is visibly displayed on the back counter in a patinated glass structure to add to the ambience of the restaurant.
The main dining room at the heart of Mökki sits on an elevation, flooded with natural light thanks to a generous skylight, and offers guests dramatic vistas out to Astana and beyond.
A key feature of the space is a curved ribbed ceiling, finished in a delicate shade of pastel pink, which has been woven throughout the skylight to uplift the ambience of the space. Soft pastel ribs grow from the columns and ceiling, softening and highlighting key areas within the restaurant. This abstract wooden forest is juxtaposed with the marble clad walls to create a sense of definition and drama.
The raised dining area features nude upholstered banquette seating complemented with Spy armchairs by Emilio Nanni for Billiani, upholstered in sage and blue smoke suede leather. The tabletops are a combination of bespoke pink Rosa marble and white Calacatta marble. Wide plank floors elongate the space with different seating zones providing a spectrum of rich and layered dining areas.
The relaxed and intimate dining room celebrates honest craftsmanship through custom joinery and furniture design. A combination of sage green and blue smoke upholstery on banquettes is complemented with bespoke marble topped dining tables.
A combination of timber and upholstery are introduced through Malmö 396 armchairs from Pedrali and Billiani Spy armchairs to create a layering of textures within the space.
Bespoke hanging brass mirrors are displayed in the dining room and reflect the drama of the undulating ribbed ceiling throughout the restaurant.
The Retail Experience
The retail area of Mökki has been designed to transform from day to night. By day, it is a café area providing fresh coffee and pastries and branded packaged goods such as tea and bread that can be taken away. By night, it transforms into a casual lounge bar.
The retail space offers a relaxed lounge area with a view into the Bakery area. Here Blacksheep has used two-tone Nido lounge chairs from Sancal and Cage Calacatta marble topped tables from Tacchini. Nude leather upholstered Spine stools from Danish brand Fredericia are also positioned in front of the marble clad counters. Bespoke leaning mirrors with brass detail straps frame the retail area reflecting the brass and marble weaved through the space.
Photography: Gareth Gardner