Drawing from his eclectic, adventurous background as a pro snowboarder-turned-Michelin-starred chef, Akira Back, who was born in Seoul but grew up in Aspen, wanted his first Canadian restaurant, located in Toronto’s new 96-room Bisha Hotel, to take diners on a mind-expanding expedition both of the palate and their other sense.
To achieve that, Toronto nightlife and restaurant impresario and Bisha owners Charles Khabouth turned to Alessandro Munge, a longtime collaborator and dsigner of the ultra luxe hotel to convey Akira Back’s glamourous journey, which begins at the ornate stairway imbued with a gold leaf wall finish and sculptural cover lighting.
Munge created a multilayered light-dark-light experience within the 147-seat space “that invites guests to enjoy (the restaurant) in a different way each time,” he says. Patrons are first treated to textured black carbon tones executed in a variety of tactile finishes, including leathered belvedere marble tables and reptilian upholstered barstools. Subtle nods to Japanese culture in the main dining space come in form of torched wood walls inspired by shou sugi ban, a centuries-old wood-finishing technique. At the other side of the space is a destination sushi bar that draws the eye with its floor-to-ceiling gold-finished brass volumes.
The standout, however, is the billowing, ceiling cover in the main dining room, bearing overlapping handpainted indigo petals with gold accents, as well as a suspended, undulating mobile installation that dons a watercolor by Back’s mother.
“That piece,” Munge notes, “makes this space more than just another restaurant to him-it’s a place he can call home.”