Workshop Bros Glen Waverley

Studio Esteta transformed a dilapidated eatery into a refined and simple Chinese-inspired all day café and restaurant, Workshop Brothers, in the Glen Waverley suburb of Melbourne.

The Client’s brief was to create a dining experience that could seamlessly transition from day to night with a design language that personified the contemporary Asian menu.

The design response draws upon and celebrates the Chinese heritage of our Clients and the playful clichés and nostalgic memories of retro Chinese eateries. The traditional and significant meaning of the circle in Chinese culture became a reoccurring theme in the design approach. Rich in meaning and symbolism, the circle represents oneness, perfection and unity.

The light palette consisting of pink hues with highlighted plum and brass accents maintains a level of sophistication whilst allowing an ease of transition of the venue from café to restaurant.

Custom light fixtures were designed by Studio Esteta, to further accentuate the retro playfulness of the design. The idea of family, heritage and food uniting the two is reflected through the design, in particular through a series of circular ply openings that divide the elongated space into dining, bar and B.O.H zones.

The openings create a gradual unravelling of the design, framed views and draws focus to the heart of the design, the central communal table, that in action reflects unity; the unity of people through food. The layout enables a fluid and seamless spatial flow for staff and patrons.

Patrons are welcomed by a maitre d’ station that defines a holding zone, this and the central cake display and waiter’s station encase the general dining zone. To manage budgetary constraints the existing kitchen was retained with the new bar and kitchen pass positioned adjacent, enabling a central service zone.

Workshop Brothers advances contemporary hospitality design practice as it demonstrates a holistic approach to programmatic requirements partnered with an aesthetic approach that inherits nostalgic Chinese tradition and showcasing its stylistic significance, in a refined and meaningful resolution.

Opposed to an unnecessarily overembellished approach, the design response is simple, refined but rich and layered with conceptual rationale that challenges past perceptions of the retro Chinese restaurant.

Circular symbolism was accentuated through detailing and intricate joinery details. Elements previously perceived ugly have been embraced and reinvigorated, vinyl clad chairs, chunky granite-like marbles, glossy surfaces, pink textures and plum and brass accents. In essence aesthetics and functionality are addressed simultaneously to create a space that is timeless and in turn a sustainable design outcome.

Design: Studio Esteta
Photography: Tessa Ross-Phelan