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Lighting Project: Saisho Original Teppanyaki Restaurant

Lamp is supplying its luminaires for the lighting project at the Saisho Original Teppanyaki restaurant in Mexico. This restaurant was created as a tribute to Japanese gastronomy and traditions using a restaurant concept that’s rather similar to the popular izakaya bars, where people usually go after work to have a drink and enjoy some typical Japanese cuisine.

At the Saisho Original Teppanyaki restaurant, one of the managers’ main aims is to offer their customers a culinary experience with a truly unique atmosphere. Lighting is fundamental when aiming to create a certain type of atmosphere, and, for this reason, this project includes a lighting design that both integrates and contrasts with the different elements that make up the area.

This role of lighting in the creation of moods and atmosphere is even more relevant in Japanese culture, where light forms part of a centuries-old tradition that responds to a very specific look and philosophy.

In this lighting project, the aim of the chosen design and luminaires is to create a specific atmosphere that fits in with Japanese tradition.

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The Saisho Original Teppanyaki Restaurant

The Saisho Original Teppanyaki restaurant transports a typical Japanese cuisine technique - teppanyaki (cooking on an iron griddle) - to the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and, more specifically, to the city of Mazatlan in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. Based around a great respect for Japanese culinary tradition and local produce, this new restaurant aims to create a unique and pleasant atmosphere for all diners.

The 2021 renovation work was carried out by the AQA Design and Construction studio and, in accordance with the restaurant managers’ wishes, it was conceived as a tribute to Japanese culture and its traditions. Because of this, the central element of the restaurant is the bar, just like in the Japanese izakayas, where they cook the meals as well as serving the drinks. In addition, techniques such as shou-sugi-ban have been used to heat-treat the cedar wood which, together with the bar, is the most important feature of the area.

The project’s architect, who was also in charge of the lighting design, was Edgar A. Campos. Lighting has been used as the principal means of creating a dramatic ambience. This is achieved through lighting that contrasts with the elements that make up the area - mainly the bar-kitchen and the individual tables -  in such a way as to highlight the heart of the restaurant while, at the same time, offering a unique and personal experience for the diners.

In this lighting project, point accent luminaires have been used for the tables, while the main lighting consists of a diffuse, almost residual, light for the areas of common use, as well as indirect lighting that comes from the panel lights in the ceiling. This permits the separation of elements and creates sensations of varying heights.

The essence of Japanese lighting


Lighting in the Japanese tradition can be considered an art form. In this tradition, the ambience generated by materials and textures is of great significance, a mission in which lighting plays a very important role.

The function of lighting can be framed within an aesthetic awareness called shibui, which is characterized by the absence of ostentation, but also by the inclusion of refinement and elegance. Shibui is characterised by simplicity, subtlety, and a concept of non-intrusive beauty.

In the Western lighting tradition we find large luminaires, with those huge chandeliers that turn night into day, while, in the Japanese tradition, light accompanies the night. Its function is to help us enjoy the night for what it is, and to provide only the light we really need in order to be able to function in the dark, without disturbing the peaceful nighttime atmosphere.

Lighting and the dining experience


Although they are sometimes unaware of it, lighting plays a fundamental role for people who are looking for a different gastronomic experience to what they normally experience at home.

In a restaurant, the food obviously plays the starring role, but another key element is the atmosphere you experience when tasting the food. Lighting is crucial in creating the ambience that you really want to convey, and this is why it must be adapted to the type of premises, the different times of day, and the social setting. The aim is to create a unique gastronomic experience to make the diner feel comfortable, and to encourage them to come back again.

In research carried out for the Insitut Paul Bocuse, it was concluded that lighting in restaurants has mainly two roles. On the one hand, it emphasizes the ambience, the setting, and the aesthetics of the place, and, on the other hand, it helps to encourage certain activities in the establishment. For example, a warm light will create a relaxed and leisurely dining experience, as well as encouraging a more direct and friendly relationship between diners and staff. In contrast, brighter light tends to lead to quick decision-making and short interactions.

Furthermore, lighting also fulfills other functions, such as defining the different areas of the place, contributing to the restaurant’s safety and hygiene, or even improving the appearance of the food and thus making it more appetizing.

Lighting solutions in the Saisho Original Teppanyaki project


In this lighting project, our Moody indoor luminaires were chosen. These are a family of recessed LED downlights that, thanks to their different optics, create different lighting effects and moods through a single lighting system. One of their main functions is to generate "islands of light" that accentuate the actual tables where the Teppanyaki is prepared, with a wide shielding angle, which means you can observe the lighting effect but not the source, thus avoiding glare.

These lights are also used to illuminate the food preparation area, which is an open area, fully integrated into the dining space, yet clearly defined by the lighting set-up in that area. The Honeycomb anti-glare accessory in the Moody luminaire improves lighting comfort in these areas.

The warm color temperature enhances the characteristics of the materials that make up the area - mainly wood in different shades and stone in dark tones. At the same time, the metallic surfaces create a reflection effect that enriches the lighting ambience of the area.

The provision of the zenithal light recesses in the ceiling help to enhance the spatial volume of the area, providing diffuse light in the passage areas and helping to differentiate and prioritize the dining areas, boosting the sensation of privacy and intimacy by creating a "separation" between these areas through these effects of light and shade.

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