Restaurant design inspiration: Rippou-Tai wall at Sugarfish


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When the first Sugarfish sushi restaurant opened in Marina Del Rey in June 2008, brand designer Clement Mok worked with architects to create a space that would feel bright and vibrant. But when customers began to compare the results to Pinkberry, Mok knew he wanted something different for the Brentwood location, which opened in July.

Enter the Rippou-Tai wall -- an undulating wooden wall that runs the length of the restaurant. The oceanic symbolism is obvious -- especially with those glass bubble lamps hanging in front of it. The wall itself is gorgeous, at once intricate and simple, watery and earthy.


The restaurant and the wall were designed by Glen Bell of Studio Dex. He calls it a ‘Rippou-Tai’ wall because the phrase means ‘3-D cube’ in Japanese. It is constructed from more than 3,000 individually cut 3-by-3-inch cubes of Douglas fir that vary in depth.

The scale of Sugarfish’s wall made it time consuming to assemble, but Bell says the construction is simple enough that anyone could do it. ‘It’s like color by numbers once you have your piles of cut wood ready to go,’ he said. Bell screwed each piece of wood into a piece of backing (in this case, plywood). The only unforeseen difficulty? The lumber was so heavy it nearly tipped over a forklift.

-- Deborah Netburn