IIG, working in collaboration with Spazio/Bressan, designed KAORI - a Mediterranean Asian fusion cuisine experience. Located on the ground level of the SLS Lux complex in the heart of Miami's Brickell neighborhood, the restaurant is open, airy, and bright, with a thoughtful balance of sophistication and casual comfort.
The new establishment includes a first-floor bar and lounge, a second-floor dining area with an expansive view of downtown Brickell, a private dining room, and an expo kitchen. IIG and Spazio/Bressan incorporated clean, contemporary lines using both Mediterranean and Asian-influenced design elements with a modern and chic aesthetic. Spazio/Bressan's design concept, coupled with IIG's hospitality design expertise, led to a seamless collaboration that brings a fresh dining experience to the Brickell area.
"We drew inspiration from KAORI's urban locale but wanted to blend both modern and relatable elements to support a cohesive design full of warmth and sophistication," commented Leslie Schultz, Senior Vice President of Design at IIG. "Our vision created a destination for patrons that engages all of their senses."
KAORI's interior is modulated by a series of vertical screens-creating smaller intimate spaces - transparent enough for the flow of light and traffic. With an aim for simplicity, IIG and Spazio/Bressan narrowed down to five natural and organic materials found throughout, including concrete, metals, linen, sisal, and wood. With a color palette that pairs warm neutrals and cool plasters, the team incorporated light-toned wall finishes and porcelain floors that contrast with darker woods and stones to give a sense of inviting warmth and connect the location's urban setting with nature. Lush greenery enlivens the venue and adds another layer to the natural aesthetic.
Lighting within the restaurant plays a vital role in supporting a bright and airy ambiance. For example, a set of origami bird lights perch in the double-height space over the bar. Guests can ascend the feature staircase and have the opportunity to view the 'birds' from above, below, and all sides, creating a beautiful focal feature. A mix of clear glass globes and woven rattan pendants in the dining area adds casual sophistication to the restaurant. The design team also incorporated smokey mirrors and custom-made furniture that complement the overall design bringing an approachable yet elegant feel to KAORI. Additionally, the modern seating primarily made of walnut wood with an organic silhouette and vinyl fabric upholstery offers a maintainable surface for easier cleaning between each guest.
"The best interiors evoke a mood," said Esteban Bressan, Founder of Miami-based design firm Spazio/Bressan. "They're an extension of our lifestyle. They entertain, provide solace, bring us closer together, and welcome us home. As such, my involvement in this project was not only limited to interior design, but also included elements that impact the entire look, feel, and experience of the restaurant-such as coming up with the theme and cuisine, the branding and visual identity, the uniform design, and more."
Photography: Courtesy of Costas Picadas