David Chang’s first restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar, which recently relocated to 1st Avenue in the East Village, has become a kind of beacon to others in redefining a more casual and relaxed approach to food. Eschewing the overly finessed and fussy approach of his forebears, Chang remains committed to showcasing technique and ingredients in each dish though without the inherent pretentiousness and price tag.
The space at Noodle Bar is dominated by a large blond timber communal table and counter where you can sit, eat and watch the chefs frantically go about their work in an open kitchen. The design is almost utilitarian in its simplicity and echoes the counter style ramen restaurants in Japan (where Chang trained for two years under master ramen chef Akio-san). Now run in partnership with Kevin Pemoulie, who coordinates the kitchen day to day, the service is sharp, perfunctory but still incredibly knowledgeable in its approach – an approach that served us well on the Monday night when we visited and experienced a forty minute wait for a table.
Momofuku Noodle Bar’s menu is definitely focussed around a number of key dishes that have become a hallmark of Chang’s approach. Chang’s pork buns – a melange of mantou bun, delightfully tender pork belly slices, hoi sin, slithers of cucumber and spring onions – are a definite favourite amongst diners. The noodle dishes are also a stand out, as you would expect, with his signature Momofuku ramen delivering on its promise of hearty and smoky pork broth (made from smoky bacon and pork bones) combined with perfectly al dente egg noodles and delightfully lascivious 60 degree cooked egg garnished on top.
Along with Ssäm Bar, Ko, Milk Bar and Má Pêche – Chang’s more upscale restaurant located in Midtown – there’s definitely a groundswell in acknowledgement that David Chang is at the vanguard of contemporary American food culture.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Address: 171 1st Avenue, New York, NYC 10003
Open: 12:00-16:30 (Saturday and Sunday till 16:00) / 17:30-23:00 (Friday and Saturday till 02:00)
Tel: +1 (212) 777-7773
Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012
Based in the town of Beacon one and a half hours outside of Manhattan, Dia have converted the old Nabisco printing factory – a bastion of America’s industrial past – to an expansive art space housing one of the world’s pre-eminent collectionof international and American art. Taking a train from the majestic Grand Central Station along the picturesque Hudson river you arrive at Beacon at once detached from the world around you and the cityscape that you’ve left behind.
Entering the main hall of the converted factory through a small entry building, you immediately encounter a vast expanse of space, with converted exhibition rooms that run for metres on end. The space and light that abounds is at once beguiling and engaging for the spectator. Designed by artist Robert Irwin in collaboration with the design firm OpenOffice, the main exhibition rooms are filled with natural light streaming in from the industrial saw tooth windows that shape the ceiling. This intelligent use of the existing structure of the building not only provides the space with lovely lived-in industrial details but also pays homage to the building’s blue collar past.
Housing Dia’s permanent collection along with a series of seasonal exhibitions, there is almost a sense of reverence when the spectator views some of the work on the walls. With specific galleries featuring works by Joseph Beuys, Sol Le Witt and Dan Flavin,
Richard Serra’s monumental metallic sculptures which envelope the space in a swirl of power and materiality were a highlight. Encountering these structures on a massive scale with their play of angles & height made our presence in the room feel decidedly miniscule. Combined with Sol Le Witt’s pencil wall studies of geometry and shapes, Dia:Beacon is a beautifully serene visual and spatial experience that is a must see for any visitor to New York.
Address: 3 Beekman Street, Beacon, NY 12508
Opening Hours: 11:00–16:00 (April–October till 18:00)
Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday (Thursdays in January, February, and March)
Tel: +1 845 440 0100
Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012
Often moments and objects of the everyday get overlooked in a world that focuses on the new. These are the moments that architect and designer Zenta Tanaka celebrates. His practice is one that is rooted in the idea of slowness and time, embracing and enhancing everything of your daily life – design for life. Zenta has worked on various projects with companies such as Birkenstock and Aesop as well as creating his own select shop and café – with his wife Megumi – called CIBI. We join for a discussion about his design influences and the projects that he is currently working on.
Hi Zenta, thanks for your time. Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself?
I am an open-minded, friendly father and whenever I go to day care to pick up my son, all the other kids surround me. I love entertaining and meeting people to get inspired! I love objects, furniture, toys, eclectic collections and dogs. I take inspiration from the world around me to do some creative design work – creating objects, space and special moments in life.
So has architecture and design always played a part in your life? You studied architecture in Australia and Germany and subsequently practiced for a few years in Japan?
Yes, a big part. Good design just makes you smile. It’s made my life more thoughtful and colourful, whether its clothes, furniture, objects, a notebook or a pen. I always take time to look at the things that surround me, taking moments to think and enjoy each object. I remember reading a little book on design by Shigeo Fukuda: a great Japanese graphic designer when I was little and it really opened my eyes and gave me a sense of being. Looking at the images and reading his thoughts about the role which design plays in life really resonated with me.
Studying in Europe was also an eye-opener. A varied group of people studied architecture with me in Germany, people from all around Europe – people in different age groups. Their approach to learning, detail and the process of designing and building was profoundly thought through after continuous discussion. They always talked about design – it was inherently part of who they were.
Can you tell me a little more about your approach to design? It feels to me that there is a focus on slowness, authenticity, the everyday and sentimental minute details?
My approach to design is really about what I want to achieve, which is touching people’s feelings and everyday experiences. These are the moments that people can cherish for a long time and I endeavour to create objects and spaces that allow people to enjoy these experiences.
This is essentially what I think of when I design and the notion that ultimately life through design makes it much more fun.
How has it been for you professionally to collaborate with companies like Aesop and Birkenstock? You recently designed Aesop’s Bondi Beach store and also are in the process of designing the Birkenstock store in their new head offices in Melbourne…
Aesop, an amazing company and brand which I was a big fan of without knowing their total philosophy, concept and their thoughtful care towards customers. They embraced my approach to design and inspired myself to be a part of their retail experience. For example something that is done in an Aesop store is the simple gesture of washing hands thoughtfully, which I feel provides an added layer to the quality of life.
Birkenstock has a profound heritage and philosophy in their products, they are showing me how to appreciate their fundamental message that product should be thoughtful and always of quality. They have been kind enough to give me an opportunity to cherish their products and showcase how beautiful they are in a flagship store which I am designing for them in Melbourne.
When you started CIBI in an old warehouse in Collingwood Melbourne before, was it always your intention to juxtapose a beautiful select shop with a café?
Yes, our concept essentially revolves around life! Three elements: good design, a sense of style and food made with love are the elements that enable us live life to the fullest.
We always wanted to showcase beautiful products designed by many great designers both contemporary and historical – for example Sori Yanagi whose products are timeless. This is the same sensibility that we wish for people to embrace in their life and their home.
What do you love most about Melbourne – living and working in this city? Any favourite places that you visit week in week out?
People – wonderful people who are inspiring that enjoy and appreciate what we do. We usually gravitate towards people that have a sense of balance. We also love to support our friends that we’ve made through food and the food industry – restaurants like Anada, Supermaxi, The Aylesbury and Marios are all great institutions (new and old) in Melbourne where people can linger and take pleasure from each other’s company. We really love spaces that feel like a second home.
I also love many of Melbourne gardens in particular Edinburgh Gardens where I regularly have picnics and enjoy the sunshine. If I have any remaining spare time, I scour Melbourne’s various vintage warehouses and junkyards searching for anything from timber, old taps and metalwork.
Address: 45 Keele Street, Collingwood, Melbourne
Opening Hours: 8:00-16:00 (Saturday and Sunday from 9:00)
Tel: +61 3 9077 3941
Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012