Occupying a prominent corner spot in Westmount, an upscale neighbourhood in Montréal, Canada, that combines grey stone mansions and quaint townhouses with chic boutiques and spacious parks, RYÙ is the latest outpost of the Japanese sushi bar chain of the same name that opened its doors in late August to the delight of locals and visitors alike. Designed by Montréal-based studio Ménard Dworkind Architecture & design with an emphasis on natural materials and hand-crafted furnishings, RYÙ is a contemporary urban eatery underpinned by a Japanese sensibility.
The designers have worked closely with skilled craftsmen in all aspects of the interiors, from the sinuous banquette that snakes along the front windows and the cubist swivel chairs lining the bar, to the sleek metal light fittings and the tactile wooden wall panelling. Relying on a selection of natural materials that age gracefully, Ménard Dworkind have managed to create a space of tactile beauty, bridging the gap between aesthetics and functionality,
The venue’s focal point is undoubtedly the sushi bar at the centre of the space where the chefs prepare the maki, nigiri and sashimi selection on the menu—all of which are made with certified sustainable seafood. Constructed out of untreated concrete blocks, its industrial aesthetic is picked up by the weathered walls and exposed concrete shell as well as the visible air ducts and pipes.
The roughness of these features is tempered by the warm softness of the wooden elements, the most prominent of which is the bulkhead that spans the length of the restaurant. Bedecked with vertical wooden slats that interchange between light and dark tones, the design creates an optical effect that gives the impression of movement as you walk through the space, as well as when you drive by, courtesy of the façade’s full glazing.
The striated design of the bulkhead is mirrored in the dark timber panelling on the back of the space and the lighter wooden panels that back the curvy banquette. It has also informed the suspended light fitting that follows the shape of the bar, which is made out of 467 pieces of aluminium square plates threaded through brass rods. Another recurring geometric feature is the circle, an allusion to the Japanese flag that can be found in the round dining tables and circular cut outs on the bar’s swivel chairs.
The concrete and wood textures are perfectly complemented by an abundance of plants, both planted and suspended, the latter filtering the daylight flooding in from two large skylights. At night, the bright daylight is replaced by the mellow illumination of the light fittings and the lantern-like glow of the kitchen, hidden as it is behind translucent polycarbonate panels, easing guests into RYÙ’s welcoming embrace.