Project Spotlight

Studio PCH and Nobu: Kindred Spirits

The design firm and culinary empire share both their California heritage and a holistic ethos that's propelled six successful projects together, most recently the tranquil Nobu Hotel Los Cabos.

The design firm and culinary empire share both their California heritage and a holistic ethos that's propelled six successful projects together, most recently the tranquil Nobu Hotel Los Cabos.

The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design.

At this point, Studio PCH is fluent in Nobu’s design language. The practice based in Venice, California has collaborated on several global projects with the high–gloss culinary and hotel empire helmed by chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his Hollywood partners Robert De Niro and Meir Teper. One of the most recent to open is the Nobu Hotel Los Cabos on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Led by French Architect Severine Tatangelo, Studio PCH has established itself as a top-tier hospitality design firm thanks to an organic style, appreciation for local materials, and talent for creating transformative experiences. Nobu Los Cabos embodies those qualities and is a masterful example of interpreting a brand’s identity in the context of a different culture.

The result is a serene escape that seamlessly fuses Japanese and Mexican elements, from wood soaking tubs and shoji inspired closet doors to local artworks and indigenous plant species. Learn more about the project below. 

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Uniqueness: Nobu Los Cabos, the culinary soul of the Nobu Hotels portfolio, is nestled close to the ocean’s shore, creating an immersive atmosphere with glass interiors that form a unique connection to the Pacific. At Studio PCH, we pay attention to the transformative journey. This is why we designed a sequence of experiences, rooted in a strong design narrative, starting from the arrival and continuing through the entire property, including the Nobu restaurant. Guests move from the exterior through architecture and into interior spaces seamlessly with material selections blending effortlessly. 

We collaborated with the California–based team at WATG, led by Monica Cuervo, on the architecture of the serene entry court, which leads to a stone-framed portal focused on the view of the grounds and the Pacific Ocean. Siting, orientation, and building plan follow a principle—quiet, enclosed spaces leading to dramatic vistas—that provides guests with sweeping views of migrating whales and magnificent sunsets. Simple lines and light colors combine with granite, limestone, the local Cabo stone, and finely finished woods to create subtle connections between guests and the environment.

Inspiration: The fusion of contemporary Japanese minimalism with locally sourced Mexican materials inspired the interior design of the guestrooms and public areas. Clean lines and wood joinery techniques inherent to Japanese design are revealed within the custom furniture pieces, teak soaking tubs, Shoji inspired closet doors, trellis features, and other woodwork throughout the hotel. Each space embodies the heart of Cabo’s laid-back style with the use of color, geometric art pieces, and rough textures, while the architecture lends itself to indoor-outdoor beach living. 

Impact of Project: One of the great impacts of this significant project is that is created numerous construction jobs and long-term hospitality employment for the local community. Local artisans were employed and recognized for their craftsmanship. The local economy continues to be supported as the hotel sources locally grown food and services from farmers and the community. 

Takeaway: The result is a zen experience featuring indigenous plant species such as Palo Blanco, Elephant Tree, Cardon, and Agave, which thrive in the semi-arid environment. Upon arrival, guests experience a serene journey through a Japanese garden embellished with local Cabo stone, rock, and plant arrangements. The garden passage leads visitors through a delicately-elevated rock pathway, symbolizing a mountain journey, and gradually grows into a perfect triangle that moves through gates of fire before they ultimately reach the waters of the final courtyard, and a stone-framed view of the Pacific. Infinity pools, private swim-up cabanas, floating daybeds, and secluded swimming areas have all been designed to celebrate the tranquility of the desert beauty. The landscape architecture, designed and orchestrated by Lance Walker at WATG, subtly strikes a balance between fire and water elements—bringing Yin and Yang in harmony.  

(Photography by Barbara Kraft)

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