Introducing ‘The Shoji Experience’: Moshimo creates a new Covid aesthetic

July 3, 2020


When and if diners return to eating out from this weekend, they will find their favourite restaurants much changed, but perhaps none more so than MOSHIMO, the Japanese restaurant in Brighton.

Whereas all restaurants have removed tables and erected screens with heavy heart and great trepidation, MOSHIMO has responded to the requirements of physical distancing in the age of Covid-19 with creative flair: it has taken the UK Government’s rulebook and has used it for a template for an arts installation.

Customers walking into MOSHIMO this weekend will be presented with a maze of large translucent panels suspended from the ceiling. The colour of the panels are matched to the distinctive red colour of the ceiling, making it look as if they are part of the ceiling, made vertical. The effect is cubist – and beautiful.

“The most natural and understandable response to Covid-19 is to see it as a negation, to focus on the loss of covers, to focus on the loss of atmosphere, that all-so crucial component to a successful restaurant,” says co-owner Karl Jones.

“Although I was tempted to see it that way, I forced myself to see it differently. I told myself that if we could respond to the challenge of the pandemic with creativity and a douse of positivity, we might be able to do something really exciting,” Karl says. “After all, some of the best design ideas comes from being presented with a toughest of challenges.”

“We’ve called it The Shoji Experience,” he says, allowing himself a smile. He’s proud of what he’s done, and says he’s looking forward to what the customers will say about it.

Built in 2000 in Bartholomew Square in Brighton, MOSHIMO is already well-known for its bold and ground-breaking design, helping to transform the 1980s square in the heart of the city into a lively and successful civic space. The walls of the restaurant are themselves inspired by shoji screens, composed of large panels that can open the front of the restaurant in its entirety.

MOSHIMO is also known for producing Fishlove, the famous photographic campaign featuring celebrities with fish that has had a global impact on raising awareness about the over-fishing crisis.

In September, MOSHIMO celebrates its 20th anniversary. “We’ve obviously had to postpone all our celebration plans,” says Karl, “but in the meantime, I’m excited about the weekend and being able to have all our customers back in our restaurant. We are lucky to be one of the largest restaurants in Brighton, so if anywhere is going to be a safe and enjoyable space to dine out, it’s going to be MOSHIMO.”

With that, Karl turns to put the finishing touches to what may come to be seen as one of the first examples of how restaurants recreated themselves to succeed in the times of Covid-19

Karl Jones is available for interview