When the table transforms into a stage: Occhio sets the scene for “Tohru in der Schreiberei”
Munich, December 2021
Tohru Nakamura and Marc Uebelherr knew they were looking for something that didn’t exist yet. But when they discovered the “Schreiberei” at Burgstrasse 5, Munich’s oldest municipal clerk’s office, they found they had the perfect location to bring to life their extraordinary culinary and conceptual idea. Their project also turned out to be a fabulous challenge for the Munich architectural firm hildmannwilke, which created an exciting interior-design concept and, in collaboration with Occhio, a harmonious staging design for light. In top form, the creative team worked closely with the city’s historic preservation agency to produce a setting that achieves a delicate balance in a confined space for food to star as the sole protagonist.
The staging begins right at arrival when guests take the “stairway to heaven” to the second floor where they glimpse the team’s workspace tucked behind a circular, reflective gold doorway – the gateway to the kitchen and thus to the treasure chamber of "Tohru in der Schreiberei“. Like all wall cutouts in the restaurant, including passages and windows, this opening is also closed off with a curtain made of heavy fabric. The curtain is a stylistic and necessary element that, together with the carpeting, subdues the acoustics of the room, making them as pleasant as possible. The two dining areas – one featuring bold burnt-orange walls and a barrel-vaulted ceiling, the other painted a rich emerald green – accommodate precisely and thoughtfully positioned groups of tables and specially designed service pieces.
Here is where Occhio enters the scene. Aspiring to fashion a homelike ambiance, the design team gave each table setting its own small living space with a light suspended over the table like a bell. The lighting fully focuses on dramatically displaying the food, with the use of general lighting deliberately avoided to bathe the surrounding architecture in only a subtle glow. The perfectly illuminated table becomes the stage for serving the meal which is artfully showcased by the pendant luminaire Sento sospeso. The luminaire can precisely trace the curve of the table and accentuate the sculptural quality of the food with its flexible glass inserts. Sento sospeso’s brilliant, richly shadow-producing light does not distort, highlighting the look and texture of the food. But that’s not all. Sento sospeso serves as a stage light, too: Gesture control also lets orchestrated hand movements further emphasise the presentation of the delicacies to harmonise with the scene. “Having the right light is essential for the atmosphere of our restaurant and plays a crucial role in its overall composition,” says Tohru Nakamura. “That’s why I’m very pleased we can count on Occhio. They’ve implemented our ideas perfectly.”
Restraint was the order of the day: Continually keeping in mind historic preservation issues, the restaurant opted for individual fixtures that were meticulously measured with a laser according to the table plan. Più alto pivotable spotlights, which highlight individual objects in the dining area, were particularly well suited for this purpose. Sento sospeso luminaires were fitted with custom-made wedges to compensate for the slopes of the restaurant’s vaulted ceiling.
All the luminaires were chosen to match the underlying colour of the room, always bearing in mind the goal of achieving an ideal chromatic integration: To harmonise with the overall concept, rose gold was chosen for the suspended luminaires in the main room, bronze for the adjoining room. The spotlights on the walls are all in matt black with coordinating ring fixtures. And the wall-mounted mirror luminaire Mito sfera shines in the restrooms a bit like a “keyhole” to well-kept secrets.
Thus at "Tohru in der Schreiberei“, many elements come full circle. Having an understanding of the extraordinary and a high standard of excellence, all those involved in the project quickly found a coherent approach to it. “We are proud to have Occhio as a partner,” explains Marc Uebelherr. “They were on the same wavelength from the very beginning and provided us with competent, creative and committed support to implement our vision.” But the common denominator also derived from the shared visionary mindset and the courage to experiment. After all, it’s not just about selling a product, but about discovering the quality of the experience – whether it involves good food or good design and good light – precisely what reflects Occhio’s philosophy and its mission pertaining to the culture of light. And what seems to have been the focus at "Tohru in der Schreiberei“ as well.