“A VISUAL TENNIS MATCH”: THE DESIGN BACKSTORY OF THE NEW TAKA RESTAURANT
The new Taka restaurant is sumptuous in every way. It raises the bar for local dining as well as design.
I spoke with Matt Berman, Taka’s designer and partner at Workshop/APD about everything that went in to creating such a spectacular space. What the Asbury Park resident shared about the new restaurant’s design was inspiring.
TBP: What is good design?
Berman: It’s a simple answer but takes skill to achieve. It comes from an understanding of what makes a “good” space, including light, texture and materiality. Good design is the synthesis of how all these components come together to make something beautiful and contribute in a meaningful way.
I don’t believe everybody is a designer or that design is subjective. We are visual people and exist in a visual world. Design is all around us and can be as much a part of our lives as the people we interact with.
TBP: Where is design is going trend-wise?
Berman: Crafted Modern – an open-minded view of how simple materials are elevated by nature, human hands, or computer-guided blades, and continue to evolve and change their personality over time. These are the things that give modern design a soul. It can be seen in a metal that has been patinaed over time or a beautiful piece of wood that expresses its grain.
The modernist movement of the past century lost touch, literally, and left spaces feeling clinical. We believe in exploring materials and mining them for their properties to create a new language that is beautiful but not ornamental.
TBP: Which is what you did at Taka.
Berman: The location of the new Taka is the single best spot downtown. I love the exaggerated corner that makes the building visible from Main Street.
For the new restaurant, we used layers of depth and shadow to draw you in. We wanted Taka to be part of the Cookman Avenue streetscape but clearly more progressive – a contextual modernism that doesn’t jump out at you right away but reveals itself slowly over time.
From a distance, there is a nod to the original restaurant’s (Mattison Avenue) design. The clustered paper globe lanterns are now clustered clear globes over the bar and Taka’s original mural is repurposed along the back wall. The mural is bold and beautiful and very much a part of the restaurant’s identity. Through the glass façade, these two markers pop.
Look closer at the exterior and you will see we took a conventional brick pattern and changed it to a three-dimensional long and short pattern inspired by a really tight digitized crop of the wave in the mural. The way the light and shadow play with the bricks at different times of the day is a beautiful moment.
The interior’s muted tones were inspired by the fabric covered sake barrels that create a backdrop to the bar and lounge area. Inside the dining room, a screen of Japanese lanterns in the same tones creates relief and texture in the large space.
There is nothing more exciting about architecture than when you discover something and are surprised by it. We wanted Taka to be a visual tennis match. As you look from different angles and scale, the space constantly gives you back something different.
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