Benjamin Norton Shows Off the Architecture That Makes Up Chef Edward Lee’s Brilliant New Restaurant

Benjamin Norton Shows Off the Architecture That Makes Up Chef Edward Lee’s Brilliant New Restaurant

Chef Edward Lee’s new restaurant Nami has been getting a full helping of attention. They recently popped up on Esquire’s Top 50 US restaurants list as well as getting some love in USA Today.

The restaurant’s home is in a gorgeous space designed by Louisville’s local practice WORK Architecture and Design. Showing off the space for WORK is architectural photographer Benjamin Norton, who kindly shared these photographs and regaled a few tales from his shoot day with us!

Ben opens things up by sharing “The Nami / Neighbors Noodles shoot was part of a larger project encompassing the entire Martin on Main building which is 197,000 sq ft with 4 stories of 137 apartments, a gym, office spaces and a rooftop pool all sat on top of two stories of parking garage and Chef Edward Lee’s two new restaurants.

I had the opportunity to spend an hour on-site with my client WORK and their marketing team about a month before the shoot date to plan out some of the shots and get a feel for the entire build, but a lot was really left to the shoot day so it was fresh. The shoot day consisted of myself, Lauren from the client’s marketing team Cambium Marketing, and three models. We motored through our entire shot list and managed to capture 28 deliverable shots. There was great teamwork throughout the entire day!”

I love this next shot by Ben. The one-point perspective really makes it special. The leading lines are so powerful and pull our eyes through the scene. We are able to note how each space has been carefully delineated with different textures and materials, yet they all feel part of a whole.

I asked Ben how he got linked up with the folks at WORK (his client) and he graciously shared “WORK was a new client for me at the time. I had seen some of their projects around town and was actually waiting for a quiet period to do a little self-marketing and see if I could get a meeting with them. Then I got busy again but randomly received an email from Lauren at Cambium pitching the job and asking for quotes about a month later.

WORK must have liked my portfolio as I got an email about a month after that confirming the shoot. They were great to work with, knew exactly what they wanted from the edits, and totally happy with me to run off a loose shot list with the complete creative freedom to put my own stamp on the imagery. The day I got the finals across we were already chatting about the next project.”

Ben speaks on one of his favorite photos “The booth I love simply because of the mix of textures combined with the tonal range. Wood grain, leather and the velvet knap combined with the color tones chosen by WORK just make the image entirely so it was a really easy shot to get.”

“Anyone that’s ever been to Louisville will know that the climate can be temperamental, (‘If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes’, was something I heard shortly after I moved here), one second it was blazing sunshine streaming through the window killing the mood and next the sun had gone behind the occasional dark cloud,” Ben starts to tell as he dissects one of his favorite photos.

He goes on, “The staircase was completely custom made to create a shadow resembling naturally growing bamboo and so the window on the left is an integral part as it casts this really nice light in the more subdued hallway. I prefer to only shoot with available light and shoot a bracket in thirds so I can blend highlights and shadows in post. In this case, I just had to wait for the sweet spot in cloud cover so it allowed me to get that nice soft light on the wall and ceiling while still retaining the depth in the shadows and not kill the mood.

In post I use Lumenzia and layer each bracket into the final image with targeted luminosity masks rather than pull one file apart with highlight and shadow sliders. Once I’m happy with the overall tone, I’ll remove fire sprinklers and electrical outlets and give it the final polish. Pretty standard stuff.”

Speaking of sunlight and temperamental weather, this shot takes full advantage of the beautiful directional light streaming in. The warm splash of sun on the floor gives a bit of atmosphere and warms up the dark but inviting space inside Neighbors Noodles.

Outside of Neighbors Noodles, Ben sets up another simple but compelling one-point perspective photo that shows off the indoor/outdoor seating arrangements. We feel as if we are walking by the spot, peering in!

Ben explains this next image: “During the walkthrough at 10 in the morning, I could already see the last shot of the day in my head.

We had organized roof access with a local business across the street a few days beforehand, kept our timing on point on the day, and then… NOTHING. Ghosted. I was messing about with a window that was painted shut in a stairwell to see if I could shoot through there and salvage something as the sun started dropping when a gentleman from another business in the building came out to see what was going on and completely saved the shot. He got us up on the roof and was super helpful. Turns out he and his wife had just sold their house in the burbs and moved into an apartment in the building we were shooting, was a bit of a photography buff and at one point, went bombing across the street and he and his wife were putting pool brollies up and moving stuff on the roof deck for us while we perched on the edge of the roof across the street. Total shot saver and thoroughly decent chap so a huge thank you to Galen Powers of AdaptivEndo!”

This next scene is one of my favorites, as we see the restaurant in action at night. Ben shows off the lighting design and poises the interior of the restaurant as a warm inviting beacon glowing through the glass. Ben’s photographs make Nami and Neighbors Noodles look very, very cool.

Ben winds things down by mentioning “It would be rude of me not to thank Chef Lee and his staff for getting Nami set up and letting me motor about the restaurant just a couple of hours before they opened for the night and mention congratulations on their recent inclusion of the Top 50 US Restaurants list in Esquire and USA Today.”

A big hearty thank you to Benjamin Norton for submitting this project in for another fun Project of the Week. Give Ben a follow on Instagram @benjaminnorton or pop by his website

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!