By bending all dictates of convention, and using re-purposed LAN cables and acrylic waste pieces, Kengo Kuma and Associates have created remarkable interiors for the Tetchan Yakitori Bar in Tokyo, Japan.
There is something vaguely Trainspotting about this bar in Japan, something like a peep into a post-apocalyptic future where the sins of our wanton abuse of electronic instruments have washed up. Right at the outset it is clear that this space is not for everyone, especially not for patrons who look for conventionally elegant comfort and easy-on-the-eye totems in bar settings.
The Tetchan Yakitori Bar in Tokyo demands a slight suspension of old norms and a somewhat grisly spirit of adventure and a predominant desire to reduce the carbon footprint.
The design team from the acclaimed Japanese architectural firm, Kengo Kuma and Associates, used recycled LAN cables on the walls to achieve a “shaggy, woolly” effect. This they call ‘mojamoja’. While ‘shaggy’ is quite right, one would also be forgiven for instead feeling like sitting at a café that is operating from inside the bloody bowels of a giant beast.
The cables have been stuck to the walls in the form of a vast, uneven and sort of breathtaking array resembling the fibrous insides of a large mammal. The array is composed of red, blue, yellow and green, and a mix of all these colours when exposed to natural and artificial light, forms a beguilingly recognisable pattern in the midst of madness.
The wires cascade down from the walls and from the ceiling fixtures, looking like parts of some great vile attempt at engulfing all the senses of the patrons. Some of these wires have grown out like alien tentacles and captured the chairs in this segment as well, and they hang out from their backs and seats like disturbing decorations.
The wires are even enmeshed in the tables, looking almost tame in the company of its devil-may-care neighbours. The other segment of the bar breaks away from this wiry appeal but not from the aura of irreverence.
Here the dominant colour scheme is of red and white, with the furniture looking like it has just been shipped in from Siberia. Made from melted left-over acrylic pieces, the bar counter, bar stools and the rest of the black metal-framed seating, look like installations made from chiseled ice. The natural patterns of the material peeping out of the glazed surfaces continue the trend of the unexpected in the interiors.
All the sedate Japanese lamps and scrolls in this section set up a perfect contrast to the show-stealing wall paintings by the Japanese artist, Teruhiko Yumura. The famed peddler of works that mix comic book kitsch with risqué nudity and sexual imagery holds back no punches here either.
The painting is a pastiche of graphics showing couples in male-gaze-pleasing sexual positions and/or lecherous acts. Thrown in here and there are big fonts spelling out seemingly random words in bold red. The painting in fact represents the whole bar’s interior identity – individually distinct props that mysteriously come together to make sense.
The overall visual effect of Tetchan Yakitori Bar is unforgettable. Depending on the state of one’s intoxication, it could come across as hilarious and satirical, or eye-poppingly weird. Located at the popular post-war flea market hub of Harmonica Yokocho, the bar-restaurant finds itself in good artsy, fun company of other youthful eateries and establishments.
It is easy to get lost in the nitty-gritty of the design and accenting details here before realising what this scheme is actually doing to the bar-o-sphere. Just like in the case of countless modern art classics that are often rejected at first as frivolous and unimaginative, but then celebrated after having been analysed keenly and put in context, the aesthetics of Tetchan Yakitori Bar require one to step back, lean farther and ponder for its quirky beauty to make sense.
Leaning back will ensure the realisation that the interiors here toss a grenade in the face of the squeaky clean, polished hardwood environs of top bars all over the world. It walks the tricky demarcation between garish watering holes for the middle class, and the sophisticated drinking dens frequented by wealthy aficionados. It is a project that aims to shock and re-invent, and succeeds in its unconventional glory by also setting an example.
This project was created using substantial amounts of recycled material like wires and melted waste acrylic products, it may be the wackier end of the green spectrum, but in case you choose to emulate the same ideas you are sure to have a blast!
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Eriata Attali