Designed as an “Asian Bistro,” Monsoon’s interior is organized around an open kitchen. Upon entering the vestibule, one is immediately aware of the kitchen. The canted plaster canopy directs views toward the theatrical presentation of fresh food displayed and prepared on a generously sized counter. The shiny surfaces, stainless steel, copper and paint, reflect the light originating from the open flames of the grilles. The spectacle of food preparation is visible to the restaurant patrons.
Located in Lebanon, NH, the restaurant’s mood is set by the contrasting and dramatic use of darker, surfaces and highly illuminated areas. The background ambiance is darker, due to the use of gently curved wire-mesh panels, which are, suspended overhead. These cloud-like forms take on different material qualities, depending on how they are viewed and on the amount and direction of light that strikes their surfaces. Sometimes these forms are opaque and dark grey, while other times, they shimmer. Specially designed computer-controlled lights are located in between the panels, allowing the lighting levels to change subtly over the course of the evening.
The design also pays homage to Asian architecture. The milky screens above the open kitchen recall Japanese Shoji screens. Bamboo columns bound in copper ties find their origin in oriental materials and joinery. The concrete’s greenish tint recalls the lush jungles of Southeast Asia.
The two sculptures are the work of Roger Chudzik, and they root the restaurant to local sources. The spectacular water sculpture splashes water onto native New England slate (mined and delivered by the artist), while the reed-like iron rods twist, turn, and intertwine to create a screen of metal, stone, water. The final design of Monsoon is the result of a rich collaborative process involving a wide array of people including the owners, builders, craftspeople, artists, engineers, consultants and the architect.