Kappo Masa at Gagosian Gallery, completed in 2014, was the first venture between renowned chef Masa Takayama and legendary art dealer Larry Gagosian. Modellus Novus crafted an homage to Japanese kappo cuisine and an entirely new type of space that blends restaurant and art gallery. Accessed by way of an illuminated amber-hued stair, the subterranean restaurant is hidden beneath Gagosian Gallery’s ground floor retail and gallery spaces. In order to reimagine the previously abandoned bank vault, MN precisely coordinated and managed a constructionally complicated design within the listed historic building.
The space evokes the Japanese phenomenon of hidden restaurants located within retail spaces or the higher floors of office buildings, upending Western notions of what luxury hospitality experiences should be. MN worked closely with art world luminary Larry Gagosian to transform his flagship gallery into a destination that engages its neighborhood. The firm sought to imagine a space that was intersectional, both and neither an art gallery nor restaurant. While Kappo Masa features priceless work by Picasso, Warhol, Twombly and others, it is at the same time less intimidating and more accessible than assumed.
Photos by Naho Kubota
“I love my Darth Vader counter.”
Larry Gagosian, Art Dealer
Number of feet below grade that restaurant is located
Hand-chiseled Oya stone wall panels, originating from Chef Masa’s home prefecture in Japan, line the restaurant’s perimeter walls and provide sound dampening
Painting by Pablo Picasso
Works by Cy Twombly
Art piece by Roy Lichtenstein
Screen print by Andy Warhol
24-hour days needed to demolish the concrete and steel plate bank vault at the center of the space, making way for the eventual open kitchen
Weight in pounds of the single piece of medical grade stainless steel plate that forms the omakase "Darth Vader" dining counter