Make a reservation at Sagaya, a steakhouse located in Tokyo’s Ginza district, to watch all four seasons unfold around you as you dine. The restaurant’s interactive experience reacts to the guests’ and servers’ movements and behaviors, producing colorful explosions of butterflies, birds, fish, and flowers as each new course arrives at the table. The table itself lights up and simulates the motion of flowing water before transforming into a field of cherry blossoms. Rushing waterfalls and stunning floral patterns adorn every wall within the space.
The installation, titled “Worlds Unleashed and then Connecting,” is part of a recurring series by the Japanese creative group teamLab. Previous versions of this project have incorporated similar dining setups full of traditional Japanese tableware. One incarnation even featured animated birds flying out of vases. What sets the Sagaya Ginza variant apart is the incorporation of food, which adds the sensory aspect of taste into an already wildly stimulating experience.
“When a dish is placed on the table, the scenic world within the dish is unleashed, unfolding onto the table and into the surrounding space,” reads the teamLab website. “For example, a bird released from one dish can perch on the branch of a tree that has been unleashed from another. If you stand still, a tiny bird might alight on your hand; if you move suddenly, it might fly away.”
Could this be the future of luxury dining? It would certainly be hard to turn down such a unique experience, especially if it were to expand outside of Tokyo. teamLab has already exhibited their works across Asia, in the UK, and in the US, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Who knows, you might even manage to get through an entire meal without looking at your phone.
There aren’t many people who could hope to match teamLab’s digital excellence. The collective consists of roughly 400 members including artists, engineers, designers, and other specialists. They’re known for designing vast interior installations that use light, sound, visuals, and virtual reality to bring fantastic new worlds to life. Walking into a teamLab creation feels like stepping into a video game or experiencing an alien planet.
By implementing such immersive technology, teamLab hopes to remove the boundaries between art and viewer and to give people the power to interact with and change each installation. The artists refer to their projects as “ultrasubjective spaces,” as they allow each spectator to experience a single work of art in an almost infinite number of ways.
“We believe that the digital domain can expand the capacities of art, and that digital art can create new relationships between people,” says teamLab. “Digital technology enables complex detail and freedom for change. Before people started accepting digital technology, information and artistic expression had to be presented in some physical form. Creative expression has existed through static media for most of human history, often using physical objects such as canvas and paint. The advent of digital technology allows human expression to become free from these physical constraints, enabling it to exist independently and evolve freely.”