The first freestanding Nobu restaurant in Doha is shaped like a Nautilus shell. Christie Lee writes.
Known for being an ambitious restauranteur and impeccable stylist, celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa has never let a single design detail slip under his watchful eye, ever since the founding of his first Nobu restaurant in Tribeca, New York.
For his latest outpost in Doha, the restauranteur tasked long-time collaborator David Rockwell, who has designed over 20 Nobu restaurants. For Nobu Doha, Rockwell looked towards pearl diving – one of Qatar’s main revenue streams – for inspiration.
Spanning 26,000 square-feet over three floors, the first freestanding Nobu restaurant is located at the northern end of the city on Doha Bay at Four Seasons hotel. Taking the form of a Nautilus shell, the voluminous building is bounded by a coiled exterior conceived of elliptical ribbons of river stones capped with bronze accents – this accentuates the three-tiered structure.
Upon arriving by private car from the Four Seasons, guests proceed into the semi-hidden entrance into a welcoming court that is evocative of a Japanese garden. A bronze clad atrium and stacked stone waterfall feature imbue the space with a sense of serenity.
Leading up to the main dining area, an arc timber staircase by Canadian artist Pascale Girardin doubles up as an art installation. It is composed of hundreds of iridescent porcelain suspended in air to reference fish scales. A stacked basalt tower rises imposingly through the open-air core of the building.
On the second floor, a lofty dining room is framed by woven abaca panels that are made by the Philippine artist Ken Cobonpue. Colourful graphic patterns of koi fish and natural abstractions adorn the dramatically curved walls. The rustic end-grain wood floors is offset by the lustre of the white sea shell columns. Spherical glass light fixtures come courtesy of Canadian artist Ken Gangbar; when looked from the side, they appear as a field of silver-white pearls hanging temptingly from the ceiling.
Gangbar’s pearl-shaped light fixtures also found their way to the White Pearl Bar. Carved from alabaster, the circular form of the bar is accentuated with horizontal bronze cut-outs. Accents of antique mirror and bronze adorn the bar back.
The Black Pearl Bar at the top level enjoys sweeping views of the Doha skyline, the Corniche and harbour. Conceived in a darker hue than the White Pearl bar, it is ideal for more intimate gatherings, with ample teak seating and a fire pit to boot.