Interview with designer Maja Myall (MM), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Anzu Restaurant.

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Interview with Maja Myall at Wednesday 22nd of February 2017: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
MM : The main objective was to create a Japanese brasserie in historic area of St James's Market in London.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
MM : What we wanted to create was fairly unique, we've woven the traditional elements, fixtures and fittings of Paris brasserie into Japanese setting.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
MM : I know this may sounds crazy but the initial concept only took two weeks to complete. We were so exited about the project that we worked around the clock to create Anzu design. Following stages took much longer.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
MM : Our client was bidding for a site in St James's Market and asked us to create Japanese Brasserie with

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
MM : Anzu's demographic: office workers, tourists, families and theater goes.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
MM : We are strong believers that the interior should reflect food on offer. The food concept is fairly unique: it respects Japanese culinary tradition whilst being innovative with mostly local British produce. We applied the same principle to our design. We researched Japanese interiors, materials, sounds and smells of Tokyo, Kyoto and ancient Nara and used them in a modern way.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
MM : InDesign, Photoshop, AutoCAD

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
MM : Design concept is based on Japanese philosophy of five elements. Entrance is located in the birth area, featuring wood, whilst restaurant and bar are in the centre where yellow colour is reflected in brass and plaster colour. Earth which represents power is found in Shikui plaster and Washi throughout the restaurant. Design of the space is fairly unique in a sense that Anzu is an easily recognisable Japanese restaurant whilst Parisian brasserie feel comes from materials and sound.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
MM : We used the latest Shikui plaster technology of mixing lime, straw and pigments to create textured walls.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
MM : We researched Wabi, Sabi and Yungen principles of aesthetics before arriving to Mayabi and Shinto principles. Anzu’s interior design was based on uniting two very different teaching of Japanese aesthetics; Shinto and Mayabi. Whilst Shinto celebrates wholeness in nature and character, Mayabi applauds polished manners and elimination of roughness and crudity so as to achieve the highest grace. These two philosophies are evident in materials used throughout the interior. We experimented freely with a fusion of traditional Japanese elements and principles to create a modern dining environment.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
MM : The landlord imposed many restrictions, one restriction we overcame was the installation of the bar gantry when we weren’t allowed to suspend any loading from the structural ceiling. This was a challenge as we had a 1 ton metal and glass structure to suspend over the bar. In the design stage we overcame this by cross bracing existing structural beams with a RSJ and suspending the gantry from it. Extra stability was taken from the top of the back bar bottle display.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
MM : We were approached by the organised=rs of the award.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
MM : Every day we learn something new and this is the beauty of this profession. This project opened a new avenue of alternative materials and building techniques.