Ishizuka, Melbourne

Designed by: Russell & George
For client: Ishizuka Floor area: 160.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Restaurant of the Year

Public Score
4.80 Function
4.80 Innovation
5.05 Creativity
© Felix Forest

The long dining bar allows for intimacy as well as promoting discussion amongst fellow diners.

About the Project

Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese dining experience where courses are curated, crafted and served over several hours. This 16 seat basement diner is designed to celebrate the Kaiseki tradition, but with a uniquely Australian take. The interior is bold, unusual, controversial, thought provoking yet in complete balance - just like Kaiseki.

The brief for the space was originally for a quite traditional Japanese dining experience both in interior design and from a Kaiseki dining tradition. Certain elements around the the flow of how the kitchen was required to function were worked through with Chef Ishizuka. However, our design process actually started without a site and we assisted in finding the right location, lease negotiations, base building negotiations for services and even with the body corporate that occupied the upper levels of the building in order to achieve the best outcome for the client.

Upon finding a site and after further discussions with the client about Melbourne and its food scene we advised that the interior needed to be unusual & contemporary to work with the Kaiseki dining experience within the Australian market. This drove an interior design response that would delight, be youthful yet formal and be a total dining experience and like Kaiseki, unusual and dynamic yet in complete balance. It was this tradition that drove every design decision.

What’s unique about it

The large lantern egg back lit with flora that cast shadows on its surface is what greets diners to the space because of its unusual scale compressed within the concrete basement, providing a shelter for the diners. Drawing on Kaiseki tradition is the treatment of the existing concrete piling of the basement which we left exposed and uplit, reminiscent of a petrified forest. A less obvious element is the subtle raise in the flooring, though barely noticeable to the diner it provides an important function which is unusual in Kaiseki where the diner gets to sit on a chair rather than a bar stool creating greater comfort and more relaxed dining experience.

The interior is bold, unusual, controversial, thought provoking, yet in complete balance - just like Kaiseki. Existing raw and rough elements, such as the concrete piles around the perimeter of the space have been left exposed, and sit adjacent to highly refined and detailed elements. This project was about celebrating the ingredients, and putting them together in perfect balance. Design here is not just about look and feel - the flow of the kitchen and ergonomics for diners, chefs and waiters was paramount.

© Felix Forest

Mirrors in smoked grey create and fog like atmosphere for the diner transporting them into another world.

© Felix Forest

Diners are served directly by chef's in accordance with the Kaiseki tradition. Mirrored walls extend the room and a marble backsplash echoes the Japanese landscape.

© Felix Forest

Pre and post dinner drinks service is housed within the fabric egg shaped lantern.

© Felix Forest

Pre and post dinner drinks service is housed within the fabric egg shaped lantern.

© Felix Forest

Turning the corning the dining area is revealed. The existing basement walls have been left exposed and uplit, reminiscent of a petrified forest.

© Felix Forest

Upon opening a non-descript basement door, a large backlit lantern is revealed.

© Felix Forest

Maître d' welcoming station and coat check.

© Felix Forest

A subtle ramp in the floor allows diners to sit on standard height chairs rather than bar stools.

© Felix Forest

Inlaid wall display details

Location of project:
Russell & George

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