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Creating ‘Immersive Art’ at Juku New York’s Subterranean Cocktail Bar

“Coming down here you’ll feel one level removed from reality,” explains contemporary artist Jonah Freeman of the new cocktail lounge beneath Japanese restaurant Juku at 32 Mulberry Street in Manhattan.
Freeman and his creative partner Justin Lowe have transformed the intimate space into a trippy work of experiential art that begins after the stark concrete entry hall of the bi-level restaurant, which opened in Chinatown in the fall and offers a casual Izakaya menu as well as the traditional chef-selected Omakase dining experience.
A fluorescent pink curtain of PVC plastic strips marks the cellar bar’s entryway — a brightly fluorescent-lit set of stairs, which Freeman and Lowe have crafted to look like a “strange wellness spa” complete with fake pharmaceuticals and advertisements with actors dressed as zombies doing yoga and shilling health products.
“The idea is to prepare you for one thing and then once you come in, it’s wholly different,” continues Freeman. “The flow from room to room is always considered. We often think of it like a cinematic cut where you jump in time and space with either a hard cut or a soft fade. [This space] is a hard cut — a smash cut, really.”
This garishly lit stairway leads into

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