Mural at Pabu: A Michael Mina Restaurant

By Morgan Bricca October 29, 2014

I love clean, modern aesthetics. The cluttered, overstuffed design of past generations no longer makes sense for the complex, jam-packed lives we live. Our cell phones keep us connected to constant activity and make sure we never have a dull moment. Sanctuary-inspired environments honestly thrill me.

Bishop Pass, the designers of the recently opened Pabu, a Japanese restaurant in downtown San Francisco, embraced a clean, pared down aesthetic for their new interiors. The design was inspired by elements of air and earth. Tall ceilings with big windows and Japanese lanterns celebrate air. Unfinished concrete walls, solid fir beams, black basalt counters bring in strong earth elements. The elements work together to create a clean, minimalist environment so that the focus can be on the food.

And you really want to focus on the food! Pabu is the eighth Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco. He runs about twenty “destination restaurants” in all. The list of awards the Mina Group has won is impressive and extensive. I didn’t read the whole list, but enough to know that eating at a Mina restaurant should be on your bucket list. Maybe next time you are in Jackson Hole or Las Vegas…

Bishop pass reached out to me at the tail end of construction of the restaurant. Though the restaurant decor was as refined and impeccable for entertaining as “the little back dress”, but it needed a feminine yin element to balance out the serious and masculine materials used.

At first they had hired a street artist to create urban, graffiti style cherry blossoms. The artwork was black and heavy. Akin to wearing combat boots with the little black dress. Cool, but not the look they were going for.

We started with coral colored blossoms behind the sushi bar. My aim was to create a piece that was dynamic and structurally interesting that would dance with the right angles in the space. The tree element extends out the far side of the bar, creating a delicate but dramatic visual element when you walk in the front door.