Paperfish Sushi: Japanese-inspired Interior Design

If you are into Japanese culture this is definitely up your alley! Join us on a tour of our work for Paperfish Sushi Bar in Brickell and South Beach.

In 2021, Paperfish opened its doors to offer a unique dining experience in the heart of Brickell, Miami’s financial district. Our goal was to develop a contemporary “izakaya” concept to stand out amidst the impressive corporate and residential skyscrapers. Have you heard of “izakaya”? (居酒屋). These Japanese bars serve alcoholic beverages and a variety of small, flavorful dishes to share. 

Paperfish Sushi bar with sake barrels 
Japanese Restaurant Decor

Mood boards

After meeting with the client, we began creating the mood boards. They are valuable tools that help us organize our ideas and maintain a coherent focus throughout the entire creative process. Additionally, clients consider mood boards an essential aspect of comprehending our proposal. They provide a clear visual reference that enables them to easily identify the design elements they appreciate and those they don’t. This way, we can guarantee that we are aligned and working together towards a common objective.

A Bit of Japan in Miami

Aiming to surprise diners with an immersive experience, we designed a “torii” entrance to transport them to a completely different place. “Torii” (鳥居) are wooden gates located at the entrance of Shinto shrines. They symbolize the division between the earthly and sacred realms and are a recognizable feature of Japanese architecture.

We took inspiration from some spectacular Japan’s shrines, such as the Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) in Kyoto and the Hie Shrine (日枝神社) in Tokyo, and designed a “torii” staircase leading to a terrace decorated with white paper lanterns and a wall of wooden tablets called “ema” (絵馬). These wooden tablets are hung at Japanese shrines for making wishes and are particularly popular among students preparing to take exams to enter university. 

We adorned both the terrace and interior with cherry blossom trees, or “sakura” (桜) in Japanese. Those who love Japan and dream of visiting are familiar with the tradition of enjoying the cherry blossom blooms between March and May. In parks all over the country, people gather for picnics with their family, friends, or co-workers. This centuries-old practice holds deep symbolism; the fleeting beauty of the blossoms, which only last a week or two, serves as a reminder of the ephemeral and transitory nature of life itself.

Light wood floors and furniture create an inviting atmosphere in the dining area, while a group of bamboo lamps adds warm lighting to the living. To infuse more Japanese elements into the decor, we placed a row of ‘taru’ (樽), traditional Japanese sake storage barrels on the top of the drink bar. 

 Paperfish Sushi Bar lounge with light wood furniture, cherry trees, and light-colored fabrics on the ceiling and walls with Japanese characters.
Japanese Restaurant Decor - Paperfish Sushi Bar salon and living area

The brand’s original wallpaper adds personality and vibrancy to the room, while the fabric on the ceiling and walls creates a stunning effect, especially at night when the cherry blossom motif reflects above diners like a painting.

Paperfish Sushi Bar lounge with light wood tables and branded wallpaper in white, black, and yellow details.
Paperfish Sushi salon with contemporary  interior design  with Japanese accents by Mico Design Studio. Light wood furniture and fabrics on ceilings and walls.

Paperfish Sushi and Its Nighttime Magic

When night falls, the paper lanterns illuminate the area and create a unique ambiance.

The exterior of the Paperfish Sushi Bar terrace at night with white paper lanterns and Japanese characters.

Paperfish had a standout year in 2021, earning the title of Best Japanese Restaurant at the annual Best of Miami Eat and Drink event organized by the Miami News Times magazine. Building on this success, Paperfish opened its second location on Española Way at the end of 2022, bringing its acclaimed menu and stylish ambiance to a new neighborhood. This location features semicircular booths upholstered in soft, light-colored fabrics, surrounding cherry trees, and a panel of paper lanterns that spans an entire wall. 

Paperfish Sushi Bar South Beach

Paperfish Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine and cocktails deserve special mention. The restaurant’s two locations offer a range of delicious bento lunch boxes and convenient pickup and delivery options, making it easy to order your Japanese food online!

As a parting recommendation for those planning to travel to Japan and visit an “izakaya”, we suggest ordering “nihonshu” (日本酒), the Japanese rice-based alcoholic beverage. In English, this beverage is commonly referred to as “sake,” but in Japanese, “sake” (酒) actually means “alcohol” or “alcoholic beverage” in general. If you are looking for traditional Japanese rice wine, you are after “nihonshu.” So if you would like to give it a try, just tell your bartender:

“Nihonshu o onegai shimasu” It means “Nihonshu, please” 
Until the next post!