Bento, a company focused on creating solutions that empower more meaningful ways of life, was founded by Justin Koziol in 2016 with two divisions under the LiveBento umbrella—BentoBuild and BentoLiving. BentoBuild offers a modular toolkit for creating functional spaces, especially focused on maximizing square footage and eliminating the costs associated with designing custom systems. “Following the rise in smaller-sized units [such as] micro apartments and tiny homes, we saw a need for a system that allows people to program a wall space just as much as a floor space,” says Koziol. BentoBuild’s modular casework, then, can include such items as storage walls, murphy beds, and even whole kitchens.
BentoLiving takes the same concept—helping people live more flexible lives—and applies it to hospitality-focused real estate developments, creating extended-stay residences with boutique amenities and neighborhood experiences—all designed in-house and influenced by the simplicity of Japanese and midcentury design concepts. Developed shortly after BentoBuild, BentoLiving was created in response to Koziol’s observation that the real estate sector wasn’t nimble enough to respond to people’s desire to move around the country more easily and quickly. Its first location, the 89-unit BentoLiving Chestnut Hill, is set within the up-and-coming Nashville neighborhood, offering lodging to individuals who desire to plug in, whether it’s for a work project or just to stay longer than a few nights.
“We’re attractive to people who don’t want to come to Nashville as just a tourist, but rather to be part of the community without having to rent an apartment and buy furniture,” says Koziol. “We pictured someone who is traveling singularly and is a little more experienced, someone who is interested in getting to know the city rather than having a white-glove hotel experience.”
At the same time, BentoLiving Chestnut Hill does offer the option of a higher level of service, as well as a variety of ways for its guests to interact. Community spaces include a colorful Hawaiian-themed bar called B1281—a unique concept that likewise appeals to locals who want to feel like they’ve escaped the city. The surf club-inspired patio space features tropical palm trees, a soaring beach-inspired mural, a bar painted in shades of bright blue, and a food truck serving up healthy Hawaiian cuisine. The Hart is a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant that features floor-to-ceiling windows that open to a nearby park, creating an effortless indoor-outdoor vibe. And rooftop bar the Chestnut is complete with plush outdoor seating where guests can relax with panoramic city views.