Maurizio Lai is one of Italy’s Top Architects. His latest project is a stunning hospitality project in Milan that combines the most refined elements of the design of the East and the West, and where Japan finds an original, nonconventional interpretation, between noble materials, light cuts, and bespoke design.
There is a contemporary idea of Japan in the project that the Italian architect Maurizio Lai has developed for IYO Aalto, the second restaurant of the group after IYO Taste. Subtle references to tradition give way to a contemporary and pure design language, conceiving a place where essential materials and light merge into a different narrative.
Maurizio Lai evokes the suggestions of the Rising Sun through a decisive sensibility, far from prevailing stereotypes and clichés. IYO Aalto appears like a preciously balanced stratification of details, characterized by the discreet and constant presence of design elements that enrich and define the personality of each environment and surface.
Furniture is made exclusively on design in collaboration with Poliform Contract: a vibrant example of the peculiar relationship between architects and Italian brands; a collaboration able to give shape to ideas, turning them into unique products thanks to bespoke process and artisanal know-how.
Maurizio Lai defines a restaurant where the founding values of IYO are transferred to space. IYO Aalto offers a dual experience, in environments designed right down to the smallest detail: Tokyo’s Edomae sushi culture, in a traditional “Sushi Banco”, and a boundless and contemporary cuisine in the elegant “Gourmet Restaurant”.
The space of 320 square meters embraces the spacious open kitchen, the wine cellar, the exclusive “Sushi Banco” (an intimate room dedicated to Edomae sushi tradition) and the “Gourmet Restaurant”. Natural materials – walnut, porphyry, brass, leather – are combined with sophisticated and more technological elements.
The entrance introduces a timeless and dreamlike dimension: a compass with float glass plates and smoked mirrors expands the space, in a game of transparency and infinite reflections. On the inside, guests are welcomed by a light installation and a desk, made of flamed gray-green porphyry and brass, which introduces a dialogue between form and material that will continue throughout the restaurant.
IYO Aalto is defined by the discreet and constant presence of signs that distinguish all surfaces: small brass inlays drowned in the wooden slats of the floors; swallow-tails – also in brass – that recall the culture of high carpentry, up to the furniture screws. Canaletto walnut and porphyry are the dominant materials in all spaces. The walls, never continuous, define and delimit spaces without ever completely isolating them: like the imposing central partition in slabs of split porphyry, flanked by brushed surfaces and void parts. Furniture and fittings, entirely custom-made, are produced in collaboration with Poliform Contract.