Opening: Tara Bernerd Designed Zentis Osaka Hotel



It does seem day after day that America’s struggle to overcome the coronavirus crisis is riddled with uncertainty. And with that uncertainty comes the reality that international travel has to be pretty much put on hold until further notice.

But our nomadic/jetsetting hearts have learned how to cope with being grounded by playing a little game, whereby we simply plan out all the trips we would otherwise actually be taking, in order to be ready when the travel bans are finally lifted. And one of those trips will see us quite enthusiastically returning to the Land of the Rising Sun.



Japan, as we all know, beat back the virus with impressive determination and cooperation, registering just 27,000 cases (as opposed to 4 million in the US). So they have earned the right to celebrate by opening groovy hotels—one of which is the swish new Zentis Osaka. It’s located at close distance to both Osaka‘s nightlife rich Kita-Shinchi district, and the commercial hub of Umeda. And though it’s the country’s third biggest city, with 2.6 million residents, it draws nearly as many visitors as Tokyo, which has three-and-a-half times the population.

It’s notably another project by Philippe Starck protege Tara Bernerd, who has built a stellar reputation with such hotels as the SIXTY Soho New York, the Thompson Chicago, and the Principal London, in which city her Tara Bernerd & Partners is actually based. And her interior designs for Zentis are a decisive answer to the overriding “zen” understatement of so many Japanese boutique hotels.



Indeed, rooms are unfussy, but with a decided warmth and elegance, with excellent use of space, and calligraphy-inspired artworks by Masami Ehara. And much like the SIXTY hotels in NYC and Beverly Hills, public areas have an inviting, living room sort of feel, especially in the dining room of in-house restaurant UPSTAIRZ, which boasts richly patterned flooring, stylish globe lamps, and locally-sourced pottery, sculptures, and assorted objets d’art as decorative features.

Other common spaces are done up in welcoming tones of beige, taupe and gray, with highlights of mustard, emerald green and aquamarine. A double-sided fireplace in the lobby with washi paper artwork by local collective Ubushina completes the decidedly homey aesthetic.

The Zentis is also a member of Design Hotels, whose catalog we find ourselves browsing constantly these days, dreaming of those trips we take will take when we are once again able. Osaka is on the list.


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