Contemporary Japan at IYO Aalto restaurant in Milan.

Maurizio Lai progetto ristorante IYO Aalto

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In Milan, Maurizio Lai designs a restaurant where Japan finds an original, non-conventional interpretation, between noble materials and fundamental light cuts.

In Milan, Maurizio Lai designs a restaurant  IYO Aalto

There is a contemporary idea of Japan in the project that the Italian architect Maurizio Lai has developed for IYO Aalto, the second restaurant of the group after IYO Taste Experience, the only Japanese restaurant in Italy awarded a Michelin star.

Overlooking the new Piazza Alvar Aalto, a symbol of the city’s renaissance, the restaurant is the brainchild of entrepreneur Claudio Liu, who wanted to deliver a different gastronomic experience to the heart of Milan. Subtle references to tradition give way to a contemporary and pure design language, conceiving a place where essential materials and light merge into a different narrative.

In Milan, Maurizio Lai designs a restaurant  IYO Aalto

Maurizio Lai evokes the suggestions of the Rising Sun through a decisive sensibility, far from prevailing stereotypes and clichés. He defines a restaurant with an absolute flavor, in deliberate search of deep symmetries and tactile emotions. The result is a place where new aesthetic canons are traced, a poetic of matter occurs in autonomous ways, and light intensifies the storytelling, driving the guest to discover a new level of experience.

The space of 320 sqm embraces the spacious open kitchen, the wine cellar, the exclusive “Sushi Banco” (an intimate room dedicated to Edomae zushi tradition) and the “Gourmet Restaurant”. Natural materials, walnut, porphyry, brass, leather, are combined with sophisticated and more technological elements.

In Milan, Maurizio Lai designs a restaurant  IYO Aalto

Maurizio Lai defines a restaurant with an absolute flavour, searching for deep symmetries, moments of experience, aesthetic, tactile and material atmospheres. Thus, the founding values of the IYO gastronomic experience are transferred to space. IYO Aalto combines two souls in a single gesture: Tokyo’s Edomae zushi culture, in a traditional “Sushi Banco”, and a boundless and contemporary cuisine in the elegant “Gourmet Restaurant”.

The interior project

The entrance introduces a timeless and dreamlike dimension: a compass with float glass plates and smoked mirrors expands the space, in a game of transparency and infinite reflections. On the inside, guests are welcomed by a light installation and a desk, made of flamed gray-green porphyry and brass, which introduces a dialogue between form and material that will continue throughout the restaurant.

IYO Aalto is defined by the discreet and constant presence of signs that distinguish all surfaces: small brass inlays drowned in the wooden slats of the floors; swallow-tails, in brass also, that recall the culture of high carpentry, up to the furniture screws.

Canaletto walnut and porphyry are the dominant materials in all spaces. The walls, never continuous, define and delimit spaces without ever completely isolating them: like the imposing central partition in slabs of split porphyry, flanked by brushed surfaces and void parts.

In Milan, Maurizio Lai designs a restaurant  IYO Aalto

Furniture and fittings, entirely custom-made, are produced in collaboration with Poliform Contract.
Photos courtesy Andrea Martiradonna

by AN shopfitting magazine no.155 ©