Chaya Venice isn’t a new kid on the block. Opened in 1990, it has been a sushi hub for decades, but it needed a revamp. C.S. Valentin of Bogus Studio changed the restaurant’s look and concept, creating more cohesion. As part of the Chaya restaurant legacy of 400 years (the first restaurant opened up in Japan in the 1600s, and the Beverly Hills location was credited with the world’s first Tuna Tartare in the1980s) it had a lot to live up to that the original space just wasn’t providing.
Valentin wanted to give the restaurant a decor that made sense with the food: “A lot of places in LA do not make sense–the food says one thing, the decor says something radically different, and the service says another,” he said. An overall aesthetic was applied throughout the different areas of the restaurant, whether it was the Kaisen Bar (a raw bar with seafood flown in from Japan) or the private dining room in the back, screened off by shoji doors. Valentin eradicated “quirky” from the design vocabulary by getting rid of the mismatched gallery wall, replacing it with a gold backed black cork wall that creates an alluring focal point for the space.
Chaya abounds with style. “The idea was to bring Chaya to one of Japan’s most inventive eras: the mid-century,” he explained. Layers of black powder coated metal, walnut, brass and leather make up the spaces choice of materials, and fun motifs like the laser-cut Japanese patterned partitions bring in a fresh element. “We wanted to give a worldly Japanese mid-century touch to every space to reinforce the Japanese identity while preserving the Californian reality, which is what made the old venue a very popular destination.”