– Kayla Pongrac, Designer, Artist

As Ottawa’s first Far East Pub, Tomo was designed to capture the quintessence of Japanese casual dining in a Canadian culture.   Tomo, meaning long time friend was designed to create a lasting experience.   What could initially appear as an intimidating space, is actually a friendly atmosphere designed with finishes and décor carefully placed to educate patrons on Japanese cuisine and culture.  

24 sake barrels shipped rom Japan are stacked in a variety of brands providing knowledge of the rice wine process and tradition.   Adjacent tables fit together to mimic the shapes and colors that form a sushi roll.  Three centered chandeliers are made up of recycled sake bottles to illuminate communal tables below.  Low wooden seating alludes to the traditional Japanese dining experience.

The alluring bar design was attentively designed and built on site.  Working closely with contractor Ben Way from TC United, Kayla’s vision became a reality through communication, problem solving and thorough product research.  The combination of simple materials such as concrete, maple wood, steel and plaster were assembled to form a unique bar base.  Kayla’s arbitrary vision of a complimenting Japanese ceiling trellis to frame the bar below was executed overnight to a T (no pun intended).

From start to finish, collaboration was a constant theme of the project.  Cultural inspiration from the partners and contractor counsel proved the project’s success.  To continue this theme, Kayla teamed up with local artists Dems & Dolls to bring Tomo to life with a 65’ wall of Hush inspired Geishas.  Enchanting photographed Asian women were transferred onto a Tomo tagged, street-art backdrop and tapestried with authentic origami paper.  Hand-painted details were carefully added to dramatize their presence.

At the grand opening, instead of a rope cutting, Kayla performed a live tag of Tomo’s logo to mark its presence on Clarence Street as the place that creates long-lasting memories and everlasting friendship.