Sake Dojo by Wick Architecture + LAND Design Studio

October 16, 2018

Sake Dojo: Located in the city’s popular Little Toyko neighborhood,  Deemed the largest Japan-town in the United States, the National Historic Landmark District boasts scores of traditional Japanese specialty-food restaurants.

As Little Tokyo’s latest dining and drinking hot spot, Sake Dojo captures the vibe of a modern Tokyo establishment, while exploring the ancient art of Japanese tattooing as its dominant design motif.

In homage to Sake Dojo’s “Japanese forward” culinary spirit, designers David Wick and Andrew Lindley—the duo behind Hollywood’s new Gold Diggers Hotel and top culinary destinations such as Mexicano and Church & State—fused their impressions of Tokyo, from the traditional and modern to the humorous, and even, fantastical.

In the restaurant’s context, that experience becomes one of being enveloped by a “body suit,” this time with wood acting as the canvas instead of human skin, and wood grain deployed to mimic how ink sets on human skin.

Wick and Lindley collaborated with tattoo artist Horifuji and printer Michael Hill of A ō S A to create the lenticular walls of tattoo art and light that fill the space.

Featuring waves, water petals and Koi fish, the aquatic theme is articulated in the main dining area on a 26 ft-wide by 12 ft-high feature wall near the entrance and on a 15 ft-wide by 9 ft-high adjoining wall, before rising 5 feet above the bar and running its entire 50-ft length span.

In the restaurant’s private dining room, floor-to-ceiling sliding perforated panels continue the design motif, cleverly enclosing the room and providing dappled views inside and out.

Throughout the 3,283 square foot space, Wick and Lindley layered a tongue-in-cheek environment with vintage décor that includes a series of American movie posters in Japanese.

In the expansive bar area, which is Sake Dojo’s claim to fame, an expanded steel liquor cage and generously sized bar amplify the sake theme, where guests can order more than 120 varieties on tap.

The effect overall—a high-design environment with a welcoming, energetic and urban vibe—is exactly what Sake Dojo’s proprietors envisioned.

Located on the ground floor of the recently remodeled Mikado Hotel in a historic building dating back to 1914, Sake Dojo is the fourth restaurant project Wick and Lindley have completed in Los Angeles’ flourishing downtown.

Design Team: Wick Architecture & Design + LAND Design Studio

Client: Don Tahara, Enrique Ramirez, Michael Gin

General Contractor: Jimmy Ramirez

Tattoo Artist: Horifuji

Printer: Michael D. Hill, A ō S A

Photography: Nicole LaMotte Photography

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