STOCKHOLM — “Can somebody dim the Dan Flavin?” It’s not a request one typically hears at a restaurant, however on the inaugural preview evening at Brutalisten, the artist Carsten Höller was pulling cords from their sockets at random, nonetheless figuring out a few kinks at his restaurant, together with firming down the obtrusive fluorescent tubes of the Minimalist masterpiece on the eating room’s wall.
Most kinks had already been dekinked, with a miraculous same-day set up of Mr. Höller’s made-to-measure furnishings simply earlier than friends arrived, and the employees, outfitted in his custom-designed grey boiler fits, was unflappably cheery.
In the previous week the pocket-size Brutalisten (“the Brutalist” in Swedish), with simply 28 seats, has been packed to the rafters with Mr. Höller’s high-polish mates and supporters from Stockholm and much past: Miuccia Prada; Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert; Mikael Schiller, an proprietor of Acne Studios; Max Schiller, the founder of the footwear model Eytys; the artwork patron Maja Hoffmann; the musician Baba Stiltz; the director Jonas Akerlund; the photographer Mikael Jansson; and a host of fellow artists.
They got here to eat artwork within the kind of Brutalist cooking, a delicacies of Mr. Höller’s personal invention supposed to sharpen our notion of style with “mono-ingredient” dishes, served merely or embellished solely by a component’s constituent elements, like a uncooked oyster he would by no means deign to deprave with lemon, or white asparagus steamed in asparagus liquids and served with a fermented asparagus sauce.
“This place is going to be a catalyst for interesting people, and we desperately needed that in Stockholm,” stated Ms. Battaglia Engelbert, who chatted with Mrs. Prada earlier than dinner. “Only Carsten could create this kind of magic.” Visibly pregnant, Ms. Battaglia Engelbert was unstoppably glamorous in Mylar stilettos and necklaces of bonbon-big rhinestones from Swarovski, the place she is the artistic director.
“Carsten and I share an interest in art that engages people,” Mrs. Prada stated, elevating her voice above the din of devotees feverishly discussing the food-as-art to return. “Art should render reality more interesting and investigate life to render it more interesting. This is what Carsten’s art does.”
A former entomologist who spent years in labs doing experiments with bugs earlier than crossing over to artwork and capturing to prominence along with his usually participatory creations, Mr. Höller topics his public to works that may really feel like experiments on people, along with his heart-stopping corkscrew slides, hallucination-inducing mild frequencies and upside-down goggles that flip a viewer’s perspective of the world — “art that is simultaneously corporeal and cerebral,” gushed one of Brutalisten’s friends.
An mental with an uncommonly genial method to social life, he collaborated with the Prada Foundation on the Double Club, a short-term restaurant in London and at Art Basel Miami Beach with a Western-Congolese mash-up that was the precursor to Brutalisten.
It was, Mr. Höller stated, “probably one of the best things I ever did, even if most people thought it was just a place to hang out and didn’t realize it was an artwork.”
The Brutalisten restaurant occupies a copper-roofed pink granite dice in-built 1926 to accommodate a public staircase — a lone small pavilion surrounded by the densely packed towers of central Stockholm. The inside was reworked by Mr. Höller, its archways now edged by a polychrome rainbow of tube lights, the partitions lined with scalloped oxblood leather-based banquettes, and oak stools and tables made by the buzzed-about Mexico City studio La Metropolitana. Mr. Höller’s signature fly agaric mushrooms have been retooled as petite desk lamps.
A gimlet-eyed examine of the restaurant reveals a five-degree slant within the spiral staircase’s middle pole, the desk bases, the bar and the off-kilter wooden slats lining the inside. “I hope it makes you a bit dizzy,” Mr. Höller stated.
Mission achieved, friends agreed — particularly as one ascends the steps towards a ceiling mural by the American artist Ana Benaroya, a Technicolor ingesting social gathering, competing with Minimalist works of Mr. Flavin and Carl Andre on the partitions.
“We needed some classic Minimalists in reference to the recipes,” Mr. Höller stated. “And then we needed the opposite with Ana’s exuberant Rubens style to represent the pleasure of eating.”
Mr. Höller, a lay practitioner of Brutalist structure, designed his personal Ghana seaside home in its boxy concrete vernacular. “Brutalist architecture is essentialist and the cuisine is essentialist, pared down to a single ingredient,” he stated.
Brutalist delicacies likewise rejects adornment (“Decoration on the plate is avoided,” the menu’s 13-point manifesto declares) whereas embracing utility (the use of “overlooked, hard-to-get or rare ingredients, or ingredients that are generally discarded, is characteristic” of the Brutalist kitchen) and explores the total risk of supplies (“If you’re going to eat chicken, why not eat chicken brain?” he asks).
Only water and salt are permitted, and really “orthodox” Brutalism — the scallops served uncooked or grilled in their very own inventory, for instance — would abstain from even these.
“The manifesto,” stated Stefan Eriksson, the pinnacle chef at Brutalisten, “restrains you so you have to go in new directions. You discover new aspects of ingredients all the time — that’s the upside of the restraints.”
Brutalisten makes use of high-quality components, in season, as a lot of different eating places do, Mr. Höller identified as he drank bubbly by the brushed tin bar. “But if you have your perfect ingredient, why do you need to add more ingredients to it? You found the perfect love of your life. Do you really need another one, or two, or three?”
So what’s it prefer to dine based on this artist’s imaginative and prescient? The Brutalist dishes are “like being a child and returning to your first taste of flavors,” stated Emilia de Poret, a style entrepreneur and onetime pop star, as she tasted the champignon Carsten of mushroom ready 4 other ways. The metaphors continued throughout the banquettes.
“It’s like entering a building you think you know well and suddenly realizing there are doors you can open to room after room that you never suspected were there,” stated Giulio Bertelli, Mrs. Prada’s son, as his tablemates toasted with pure wines and a pure cloudberry juice, one of many Brutalist drinks created by Mr. Höller’s girlfriend, Kajsa Leander, an entrepreneur and pomologist.
When dessert arrived — a grilled apple served with apple sorbet on smoked apple purée — the artist Precious Okoyomon took a chunk and, with closed eyes, leaned again for an prolonged flavor-meditating minute, impervious to the boisterous desk banter. “My vibe is excess pleasure,” Mx. Okoyomon stated, “but Carsten’s is stripping down to the core of the thing, which is poetic, like being in a quiet room.”
Even skeptics have been transformed. “Minimalism and avant-garde ideas are OK in art and fashion,” Mr. Schiller stated. “But with food, it should stick to just being tasty. I was surprised, though — the simplicity here made the flavors a revelation.”
Mr. Höller makes artwork, he stated, as “a proposition to look at things in a different way.” With Brutalisten, he’s welcoming mates and friends to rethink meals: Why don’t we use everything of an ingredient? Why don’t we go deeper into a single taste? Why is delicacies so not often an artist’s medium?
“For me, art is a social experiment,” he stated. A restaurant is “actually a terrible business in terms of time, money and health, but I couldn’t help myself,” he added, scrutinizing the eating room because it slowly cleared out. “The role of an artist is to be an experimenter, after all. Like a scientist, but without the rational considerations.”