The Idealist

Mökki, Upscale living in Astana, Kazakhstan

When the name Astana is thrown into the mix of other world cities like Tokyo, Sao Paulo or Jakarta, it always leaves a few heads nervously being scratched: simply, most haven’t even heard of it. And for those that have, it’s considered an eerily unreal place. Amidst countless, hundreds of miles of Kazakhstan’s arid flatlands, with the space’s sense of mystery thickened by tales of secret Soviet weapons testing and the Iron Curtain rhetoric of the Cold War, Astana, boldly reaches to new heights as a beacon for the country’s ambitions. Its streets are meticulously planned, surreally methodical, and neatly compartmentalised so that the entire place’s sense of composition and order is shown in a total, almost aggressive, beauty.

Direct your gaze upward, and the city becomes a chaotic symphony of glass and polished metal, contorted into ever more adventurous forms with each building vying to make a statement grander than the one that neighbours it. Needless to say, Astana knows no such thing as hushed tones when announcing its presence on the world stage.

This said, Astana’s fiercely metropolitan ambition has opened the city’s doors to high-end names and businesses from all over the world, with The Ritz-Carlton being one of these. A name that requires no introduction, this newest addition is a five-star hotel which boasts an elevated location in the city’s Talan Towers, a vantage point from where guests can lose themselves in uninterrupted panoramic views of Astana’s ambitious skyline.

The interiors aren’t exactly shabby either. An ideological mix of the Ritz-Carlton’s reputation honed on delivering with excellence, paired with Astana’s quirkily insatiable appetite for all things, bigger, faster, and bolder, meant that a space, undeniably luxurious and yet laden with the Astana’s brash confidence, and yet, searching sensibility would take shape – Mökki, an elegant restaurant situated in the hotel’s third floor, certainly is this space. We take a tour of this incredible restaurant, observing Mökki’s unique inquiry into form, texture and tone that makes it the elegant, metropolitan space that it is.

Establishing the Style

Mökki’s sense of air and spatial balance is achieved through central, neutral textural and tonal palettes, pairing with the space’s open-planned configuration. A core pack of whites, pastel greens, salmon, and muted browns set the visual tone: a focus on all things, clean, earthy and elemental. Nevertheless, the palette is undeniably complex, quoting both Scandinavian and a New York-tinged Art Deco as visual inspirations.

Matte white walls softly diffuse light whilst offering a delicate visual counterpoint to sublime marble installations. The stone’s natural veining really pops, bringing a typically Astana brand of intensity to the space. Similarly, the floors and ceiling spaces are configured with honey-toned touches. The ashen hues and natural grain inherent to these woods injects an earthiness to the space, playing against, and taming, the richness of Mökki’s many marble accents.

Neatly tying these elements together are metallic gold tinged borders that run the length of Mökki’s walls and ceilings. Often intersecting at sharp angles, these provide the restaurant with a visual and textural edge, whilst its lustrous, yellow-brown hints keep the element within notably elegant and luxurious visual styling.

Poetic Dining

Mökki’s interiors carry Astana’s ambition and otherworldly style of execution. Step into Mökki’s main dining room, and you soon begin to understand this. Uniting the ceiling and against the room’s pillars in a vine-like fashion is a bold, ultramodern timber installation. Pressed so that the piece’s many slats diffuse from, and concentrate at various nodes in the almost alien looking design, gives the whole structure a tremendous sense of play and movement as you navigate through the space.

Adding to the already splendid theatrics of this are light installations, concealed and interspersed between these slats. In addition to the crisp, ambient glow they give the space, the lights gorgeously track the twists and turns of the wood as they move against the space’s many vertical and horizontal planes.

Set against the walls, mirrors are observed in a plethora of shapes and sizes. These range from great rectangular pieces, angled downward so as to gaze back at on-looking diners, to circular pieces, reflecting Mökki’s unabashed inquiry into form whilst also alluding to a certain twenties, Art-Deco nostalgia. Certainly, the mirrors aren’t the only part of the room that sport this Art-Deco look. Chairs and various seating fixtures are upholstered in a mottled, emerald green, which, when paired against the washed burgundy of the dining room’s many feature walls, evoke the colours, scents and tonal stylings of New York City’s yesteryear.

This design arc is carried into the flooring too, where the grain patterns of elegant, light woods are contorted and reformed to mimic the sharp geometries of the Art-Deco tradition. These elements are seamlessly blended in with the vernacularized schemes that run throughout the restaurant, achieving that vital continuity whilst also permitting Mökki’s main dining spaces to capture an energy and bravado that is, like the city, unquestionably, its own.

Parisian Scents

Certainly, as Mökki’s main dining space trains its gaze firmly towards Big Apple nostalgia, its bakery does much the same with the boulangeries of Paris. Long marble islands run the length of the space. The marble’s tone, veining and mineral streaks match that of the marble installations that drape Mökki’s walls, visually pairing the islands to the room and the restaurant’s various spaces. This said, the bakery’s Parisian touches are observed in the details. A wild array of cakes and breads are displayed on wooden boards and elevated on vintage-styled crates, in much the same way they would have been in a traditional Parisian bakery.

Illuminating the bakery’s lengthy islands are bead-like, pod lighting and, darting across the celling, dark silhouette like metal lanes, whilst evoking a vintage, industrial style, are wholly modern in the shapes and forms that they take. Like the form of the marble islands, lines are tremendously clean and do away with stuffy and archaic frills-evidently, a twenty-first century space.

Global Rhetoric

Astana’s, and for that matter Kazakhstan’s, location poises it in a liminal space, somewhere between Asia and Europe. Certainly, Mökki’s stylings reflect this, drawing from both Asian and European art-traditions in the composition of its interiors. The handrails that run parallel to the restaurant’s main stairs illustrate this. With its cylindrical form sheathed in pleated brown leather, drawing in echoes of the Middle East and Asia.

Similarly, lighting fixtures, suspended on leather belts are configured as modern reimaginings of design elements observed in oriental and western schools of design. United by the visual arc of simple tones, elegant execution and a timeless tonal palette, Mökki’s interiors are a melting pot of international traditions, design lingos and visual philosophies.

Rounding Off

There’s no doubt that Astana has big plans for its future, and certainly, the hyper-planned and dizzying metropolis that it fashions itself as today, reflects the city’s steadfast determination towards its ambitions. Mökki’s interiors also carry this energy and swagger. Elegant and classy, the textures and tones leave nothing to the imagination in establishing Mökki as a distinctively opulent space.

Paired with influences drawn from across the globe, the restaurant is a meeting point between styles, design cultures and traditions- much like Astana. Situated on the third floor of the illustrious Talan Towers, with commanding views of the world around, Mökki’s interiors inspire and inquire in much the same vein as the city, a tapestry of intelligent and original design

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All photos courtesy of Mokki, Ritz-Carlton Astana.

  • Nigel is a writer and journalist living in London. He loves music, literature and architecture. Since moving to London to study, he’s yet to kick his honeymoon phase with the city, and when not working, can consequently be found making the most of what London has to offer. He maintains that Billy Joel is one of the greatest and most critically misunderstood singer-songwriters of our time. So far, he has found 3 other people that agree with him.

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