Sensuous Beauty in Kyoto
Japan, Hotel Interiors and Food –
Amidst HIRSCH BEDNER ASSOCIATE’S elegant spaces of Four Seasons Kyoto, Pastry Chef REIKO YOKOTA creates visual wonders of the edible kind
THERE ARE VIEWS of green nature and shimmering water at every turn. There are also glimpses of frosted pink sakura petals resting on creme patisserie.
Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) designed the interiors of Four Seasons Kyoto in Japan to be a haven of quiet dignity and discreet expression, its design narrative carefully engaging Shakusuien Ikeniwa (pond garden) that dates back to the Heian Period 800 years ago.
The luxury hotel was designed by architecture studio Kume Sekkei, and its interiors by HBA are a rich model of modernism that resonates while carefully maintaining traditional Japanese conceptions of architecture. Four Seasons Kyoto draws the outdoors in and is meant to be a space for contemplation and connection with nature. HBA designed every facet to open up to views of Shakusuien, allowing the design to serve as a window to the 10,000-sqm pond garden, never detracting from it.
Agnes Ng, partner and lead designer on the project for HBA said: “Five years ago, we began working on the design for the Four Seasons Kyoto and immediately recognised the tremendous respect and honour the region and Ikeniwa Pond commanded. Our concept paid respect to both aspects of the property with our understated, graceful design, which had minimalist undertones featuring intricate details.”
Inspired by these breathtaking interiors and constant views of Shakusuien, Four Seasons Kyoto pastry chef REIKO YOKOTA creates beauty of her own
Like interior design and architecture the culinary arts is also very visual. As a pastry chef you appreciate food artistry in terms of colours, shapes, flavours and design. What do you think attracts a person to try your creations?
I find beauty in simplicity. So in my dessert I try to bring out the beauty of the ingredients in the most simple way and with very few elements. The balance of keeping it simple yet exquisite is always the challenge and the best part of creating. I hope that the subtleness and the natural beauty is what attracts our guests to my creations.
Which part of Four Seasons Kyoto – apart from the kitchen – do you like best in terms of its design and interiors?
The beautiful wood panels, slats and elements in The Lounge & Bar have such a unique character and go so well with the rich marble floor. In Japanese culture we find beauty in the silence of the shadow. When you’re in The Lounge & Bar you can see the beautiful 800-year-old pond and gardens which are elegantly picture-framed by the span of glass windows. This serene view of nature plays with the beautiful wood elements to cast different shadows and light at different times of the day. It lends a beautiful story to The Lounge & Bar.
What foods should we try Kyoto – and is there anything special you will be creating with these ingredients?
We have amazing chestnuts grown in Kyoto and chestnut mont blanc is very popular in Japan. I will be creating a Kyoto mont blanc enhanced with Kyoto roasted green tea Houji-cha.
Story by Carol Kraal. Interior design photographs courtesy of Hirsch Bedner Associates; Food and Pastry Chef Reiko Yokota courtesy of Four Seasons Kyoto. Chestnuts by www.kyotochestnuts.com