Life in Dubai. Conversation with Mitia Muravev
14 november, 2022
Durov’s Code spoke to Anton Nenashev about his new project in Dubai — Krasota restaurant. In this conversation, he reveals how cooking and technology can be combined to create something entirely unique.
Krasota is an immersive WRF gastro project, combining visual art from Anton Nenashev's studio, gastronomy from Vladimir Mukhin and Likarion Solntsev, space design from Natalia Belonogova and the overall concept from Boris Zarkov.
– It has become common to consume food and watch TV at the same time. Now we spend more time searching for videos on YouTube that we watch while eating than on actually cooking the food.
Is your project an extension of this consumption philosophy, maybe just the next stage? Is it an attempt to take this habitual pattern to a higher gastronomic and aesthetic level?
I don't think it's a new level — it's more of a lateral branch, another new exotic way of doing things. But it's a unique product, and it can't be consumed at a mass level. Yes, it's a synergy of several mediums at once and it plays on a wider range of senses. Of course, this is more than just going to a restaurant or consuming audiovisual content.
– In your restaurant, the visitor can get new pleasant experiences in several ways. This is, of course, the gustatory experience. But it is also joined by art wrapped in an IT shell.
How did you come up with this particular combination that literally provides people with 'bread and circuses'?
I travel quite a lot, in pre-pandemic times there I was taking about 150 flights a year. I had been to all such restaurants, from Ultraviolet to Sagaya. One day when I was in Tokyo, I thought about doing something like that in Moscow, mainly because I am crazy about food and video and I know Vladimir Mukhin well. So I thought: Why not?
I didn't want to copy what I saw, so a new form-factor of the 360-degree cylindrical panorama was invented (now I understand why there is no such thing anywhere else: putting ten projectors stitched on walls trapezoidal projection at 15K resolution and twenty on a seamless table at 10K resolution is a "complicated" task).
It allowed us to deliver the content and visual ideas in a completely different way, using geometry and rhythm of space around the guest at full stretch, literally sewing it into the action. We spent a year building the first complex and two years upgrading it to its current state.
– The UAE is truly obsessed with IT. Tell us about the technology you use to showcase all the art. Is there a large team handling the maintenance and setting up all this equipment?
There will actually be a second version of Krasota in Dubai: we've finally tweaked machine vision and AI, created giant datasets and finalized tracking, which will allow us to bring a fully interactive projection not only to walls and tables but also to plates and food. It looks wildly impressive.
As for the team, I'd say that our core staff is about 15 people, but in order to develop the content of new sets, we're combining several studios at once. For example, right now we are working on the set, that will launch in February. It's called "if..." (imaginary future). Three studios are already working on it, and we might add some more.
The previous set had 44 minutes of original video content at twice the IMAX resolution, while this one will be well over an hour. This kind of thing takes a lot of resources, we need a many professionals who have been doing graphics for decades.
– What will make KRASOTA a must-see venue?
Well, first of all, the outstanding food from Vladimir Mukhin. The food is hard to describe, you have to taste it. I don't like to praise my work, the images must speak for themselves;
I will only say one thing: with all due respect we are not making "little flowers and circles" on the walls and tables; we are making complex illustrative video content, with its own image system and storytelling, sensual and meaningful, it is not just a video wallpaper, but a complete spectacle. Together with the food and music, you have an amazing experience.
– In Russia, you rely heavily on Russian and even Soviet culture when creating content. How do you plan to adapt your ideas to the Middle East, taking into account, on the one hand, the regional peculiarities, and, on the other, the many cultures now concentrated specifically in Dubai?
In my opinion, formalism is the worst thing one can apply to creativity: Dubai, the oriental set, and so on – it kills everything at the root. We are starting with a set about seven great Russian artists, from Deyneka to Roerich, whose art does not require my introduction.
It was an extremely difficult job, and we spent hundreds of hours in museums; we searched for and came up with moves on how to present their work in a fresh and interesting way, without adding something to it.
In the end, you can see Deyneka through the prism of anime and manga, a painting by Aivazovsky entirely recreated in 3D, literally immersing you inside a storm, Roerich with Stephen King passages and laced with J-pop – it's a crazy cocktail. In it, we mixed very carefully our admiration for the Russian art legacy, and tried to make it 'drinkable' for the contemporary, and let's be honest, sophisticated viewer - this is our target audience.
The next set, about the 'imaginary future', is seven video/audio/taste/novels in which seven different versions of the future, from cyberpunk to eco-retro-futurism, unfold before us, guided by two key characters. This is our most complex work, and we hope to launch it by February. We've gone so far as to say that there won't even be plates in their usual form, but rather "eating devices", prototypes of which are drawn by me and manufactured by several companies at once.
– When you look at the future of VR/AR technology, it has to fit into your restaurant concept. Do you plan to apply them to your business? For example, can you open a KRASOTA restaurant in the metaverse?
The whole point of the Krasota project is to erase boundaries between the food, the guest and the image, so we don't want any unnecessary devices such as a VR headset. Everything has to be real, and located in our reality, not in the metaverse; the metaverse is for everyone, Krasota is for the few.
Of the entire range of upcoming technologies, perhaps when lightweight transparent AR glasses become available, they can be used in our spectacle, but again, the basic idea is to do EVERYTHING in reality.
Among the promising things: transferring the projection onto the guests, "video dressing up" with the help of ultra-fast 3D-scanning technology that makes it several hundred times per second with the help of the same ultra-fast projectors. These technologies are just emerging, but we have bought test samples and are working on the future.
Everything will be Krasota!