The club concept that is revolutionising the restaurant business
Maria Giulia Zunino
Maurizio Lai (Studio Lai)
The Sushi Club in Corbetta, a municipality to the west of Milan, is more than just a restaurant. It is a spectacular, enthralling space where diners can immerse themselves in design details that explore all dimensions almost to the point of obsession. Not a single square centimetre of ceiling or wall space remains untouched by the intersecting lines that generate an endless repetition of grids and cubes, part of a new «democratic baroque» style that expands the space and directs the gaze beyond.
With this stylistic approach, architect Maurizio Lai once again demonstrates his exceptional skill in designing what he refers to as «democratic luxury». «I often find myself working in peripheral locations, places that lack identity or reference points,» he says. «My projects are exportable operations, you can think of them as cathedrals in the desert whose aesthetics transcend the product itself. While the Japanese restaurants in this chain are all different, at the same time they all display a clear reference to the brand. Moreover, they are no longer just places to eat but have been transformed into clubs where customers can find interesting stylistic ideas and make them their own. I take a lysergic approach made up of constantly overflowing details: in the end, everyone always finds something they like.»
The exterior with its dark metal surfaces punctuated by beams of light offers a small glimpse of the surprises that await inside. The reception and waiting area is the first stop on a journey through intimate shared spaces leading into the heart of the restaurant, which extends over a total space of more than 700 square metres including the kitchen and restrooms. The play of volumes is immediately evident on the ceiling, with its cubic modules of different heights that alternate between matt and glossy, varnished and printed, darkened and backlit surfaces which in turn are reflected on the horizontal surfaces of the coloured glass tables and the dark mirror reception desk. The result is a geometric labyrinth, amplified by the symmetry of the twin dining rooms.
The floor serves as the unifying element. The choice of the colour sand, intentionally neutral to avoid a sense of disorientation, emphasises the function of the floor as a coordinating element, a kind of roadmap to avoid getting lost amidst the overwhelming abundance of stimuli. It is tiled with porcelain slabs from the Studios collection produced by the Florim brand Casa dolce casa-Casamood. Inspired by finishes from the world of construction, from Chalk through to Rubber, Brick and Concrete, these elegant tiles were chosen in a square shape to enable them to fit in with the geometric design of the location and in a large 120×120 cm size to minimise the number of joints.
The journey culminates in the astonishing surroundings of the 6-metre-high dining room, where the space is divided up by two metal mesh sails. The large digital canvas that envelops the room extends onto the gallery, creating the impression that it is suspended above the sushi/cocktail bar counter.
Everything is custom-designed and combines different materials: the furniture, lamps, partitions, walls and ceilings generate a sense of excitement, curiosity and opulence.
Casa dolce casa-Casamood, Studios
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,08%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 140 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 52 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 R+PTV
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant