Visitors to Ästad Vingård, a winery in Sweden’s rural Halland County, have a new treat to discover: Restaurang ÄNG, a dinner destination by Norm Architects that reflects Japanese and Scandinavian craftsmanship and simplicity.
To complement the restaurant’s 19-course tasting menu prepared from regional ingredients, the firm chose decor and furnishings meant to appear only a few steps removed from the landscape. Decorative bowls hewn from unseasoned wood by Bonni Bonne, a designer based in Norrland, Sweden, sit atop solid oak dining furniture from Karimoku, a hardwood furniture manufacturer in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture. Norm Architects and Karimoku continued a prior collaboration for this project with the ÄNG Lounge Table, A-S01 sofa and lounge chair, and the A–DT02 dining table, conceived by Karimoku’s Keiji Ashizawa exclusively for the restaurant.
The overall design was inspired by kare-sansui, raked sand and stone Japanese gardens that epitomize the aesthetic principle of the beauty of empty space, or yohaku no bi. To achieve the effect, the team selected sculpture by the likes of Norwegian artist Anders Pfeffer Gjengedal (Løvfall) inspired by ballet’s fluid movements, as well as wood and fiber pieces by Danish designer Sara Martinsen, who walked the forests surrounding ÄNG in preparation for her commission. While architects usually select materials from the comfort of the office, the designers also partook in the decorative definition of space via a trip to a Växjö quarry to collect unfinished stones that draw attention towards appealing empty space.
Fortunately for visitors who want to feast with their eyes first, most of the luxe interior is visible from the outside. Set amid an expansive grassy field (äng is meadow in Swedish), the restaurant’s glass and iron-framed building evokes a working greenhouse.
But one portion of the program is completely hidden from the outside. During the meal, diners visit a subterranean wine cellar stocked with French vintages as well as wines from Ästad Vingård. According to Norm Architects’ Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, the cavernous room evokes chiaroscuro, a painting technique wherein a dramatic contrast of light and dark define space to achieve depth and volume. In this building, he explained, the low-light, dark-paneled cellar is meant to concentrate the senses after a sunlit dining experience above.