The Nobu restaurant involved an interesting collaboration between the two business partners, Giorgio Armani and Nobu Matsuhisa, and Gabellini Associates. The 7,500 square-foot restaurant includes a large lounge and sake bar, a sushi bar and a 130 seat dining area.
Occupying a discreet corner of the Center primarily dedicated to service activities, Nobu’s public façade is on the interior overlooking the Galleria Rotonda. Its corner location on the Rotonda occupies both the ground and first levels, allowing its interior façade of taut clear glass panels and stacked stone piers to conceptually penetrate the galleria floor and have a double height expression. The glass walls are lined with sliding translucent panels that provide varying degrees of visibility and luminosity based on position and lighting conditions.
The ground level, with entrances on Via Pisoni and from the Galleria, features a large lounge area with various custom seating arrangements including a communal bar table, built-in bench seating with flexible cushions and custom tables and chairs. The chairs and cushions were designed in collaboration with Vladimir Kagan. An intimate lounge environment is created through the use of natural materials and various subtle lighting techniques that bathe the area in warm ambient light: Soft sunset-like light emanates from ceiling slots subtly tinting translucent panels; glass shelves lit with neon highlight elegant glassware and a brilliantly lit full height glass wine cooler lined with horizontal bands of closely spaced saki bottles on glass shelves punctuates the bar area. A floor of closely spaced pietra serena stone slats folding onto stone piers, American walnut wall panels and furniture, natural plaster walls and ceilings and bronze details provide a rich palette of materials.
The main restaurant, located on the first level, is accessible through a double height atrium lined in walnut panels enclosing a floating walnut stair. The main focus of the restaurant is the sushi bar constructed of walnut, bronze, clear glass and translucent onyx panels that emit a welcoming glow. Sliding translucent panels offer the option to subdivide the space for private dining.