Dezeen Magazine

Bird feathers and burls inform New York restaurant by Polonsky & Friends

New York design studio Polonsky & Friends has lined this tiny New York omakase restaurant with burl wood veneer panels, while its counters and cabinetry are coloured to resemble bird feathers.

Designed as a sister location of Rosella, an East Village sushi spot that opened in 2020, Bar Miller is located a few blocks away in Alphabet City.

Small restaurant with dark blue-green counters and burl wood walls
The compact Bar Miller space seats eight covers around a counter made from rare Avocatus stone

The owners brought back Polonsky & Friends to complete the interiors so that the two outposts could share the same "warm, welcoming energy".

Although the menu borrows from traditional sushi craft, it's not authentically Japanese, so the designers wanted to steer clear of any tropes that might deceive customers.

Burl wood veneer panels framed in white oak on the walls
Burl wood veneer panels on the walls are framed in white oak, matching the building's original floors

"The design had to incorporate local and craft-centric elements and honour the food's Japanese inspiration, but not fall into any folklore since the team isn't Japanese and the menu is untraditional," studio founder Anna Polonsky told Dezeen.

The restaurant only seats eight covers, which surround the open kitchen in the centre of the compact space.

Trio of panels with hand-painted wallpaper displaying bird feathers
Custom wallpaper hand-painted by Hollie M Kelley displays the feathers of an eastern rosella bird

Deep blue-green Avocatus stone – a rare quartzite with a leathered finish – forms the entire bar counter

A custom ceiling pendant by Madrid-based designer Pablo Bolumar is suspended above the counter like a string of pearly beads.

Blue-green counter with ceramic vase and flowers, in front of a wood-panelled wall
Pieces by several local designers are featured in the restaurant, including ceramic vases by Fefostudio

On the walls, panels of burl wood veneer are framed in white oak, which matches the refinished original parquet floors.

"We were able to sand back [the flooring] after it was hidden for years in the previous restaurant," Polonsky said.

Glossy maroon kitchen cabinets
To contrast the blue-green dining area, kitchen cabinetry is coloured maroon as another nod to the rosella bird's feathers

A trio of panels feature a custom wallpaper drawn by artist Hollie M Kelley, displaying the feathers of an eastern rosella bird.

Kelley also drew the icon for the sister restaurant, a western rosella, which has different colours in its plumage.

The maroon hues in the wallpaper are echoed on the cabinetry behind the kitchen counter, differentiating the food preparation area from the blue-green of the dining space.

Other details include a panel of vertical wood slats for storing plates above the sink and moulded-glass scones shaped like scallop shells.

Vertical wood slats provide spaces for storing dishes
Vertical wood slats provide spaces for storing dishes

The bar stools were crafted by Maderas Collective in Nicaragua and upholstered by Ecua in Queens, while ceramic vases were sourced from New York-based Fefostudio.

In the bathroom, green tiles laid in a herringbone pattern cover the walls and a rice paper pendant light hand-painted by Claire Dufournier hangs from the ceiling.

Bathroom featuring dark green tiles and a hand-painted rice paper pendant light
The bathroom features dark green tiles and a hand-painted rice paper pendant light

For those looking for more Japanese restaurants with notable interiors, New York City has plenty of options to choose from.

Check out the Rockwell Group-designed Katsuya close to Hudson Yards, Rule of Thirds by Love is Enough in Greenpoint, and Tsukimi in the East Village designed by Post Company – formerly known as Studio Tack.

The photography is by Nicole Franzen.