Project Team:
Interior Design - Anthony Carrino
General Contractor - FMR Contracting
Murals - Christian Masot

Photography: Anthony Carrino

Restaurant Website:

Located in Hoboken, NJ, SAKU is the former home to the beloved Turtle Club that occupied the space for the previous 10 years.

The concept here was ‘to do something that hasn’t been done in Hoboken before’; those were my instructions from owner Danny Grey. With that, I pitched my duality concept, which is what you see in the images above. Having two distinct rooms completely separate from one another, with the exception of a narrow tunnel that connects them, allowed me to move the design of each room in completely opposite directions; a light room & a dark room, life & death, yin & yang, duality.

My goal was to create a clean, modern aesthetic with Japanese nods. The dark room is clad floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall in sho-sugi-ban wood (an ancient Japanese technique of burning wood to keep insects out, and to keep it from catching fire once again) laid out in a chevron pattern, which even translates up and over through the arched tunnel. A jade green 2x8 subway tile faces the bar in a stacked pattern, and the Saku Samurai mural by the incomparable, Christian Masot, anchors the omakase bar.

The light room was completely painted in the palest of pinks, and then I created a room within a room by using 1x8 trim stood on end to create a faux drop ceiling and ‘fins’ that come down the walls. The fins do not break at the windows, coming straight down to the floor. This treatment exudes a subtle air of privacy from the outside world, and serves to be very transportive, while also dropping the ceiling of the room for a bit more intimacy. Utilizing the same 2x8 subway tile in a stacked patten, this time in pink, on the front of the bar, and installing a new live edge, walnut bar top. The room is anchored by another Christian Masot mural, this time a cherry blossom paying omage to the restaurant’s name (Saku - to bloom).

Lastly, the lighting throughout the entire restaurant is meant to exude somewhat of a dream-state. Utilizing multi-cord pendants with oversized, LED Edison bulbs (geometric domes in the dark room, and diamonds in the light room), the lights almost drip from the ceiling.

Design Sources:
Sho Sugi Ban - Stikwood, in Charcoal (4’ lengths & Fire treated)
Bar Face Tile - Fireclay 2x8 Field Tile in Basil gloss & Stilbite matte
Lighting - Custom designed fixtures by me from Hangout Lighting