CITIZEN Melbourne, is a new Japanese snack bar, in Melbourne’s up-and-coming South Wharf neighborhood.
The restaurant represents the transformation of a business plan, as the proprietors turned their former coffee-focused cafe into a stylish, new concept restaurant now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Melbourne architecture firm, KENNON+ was hired to help give their new vision an entirely new look.
The venue’s minimalist, modern interiors feature a mixed material palette that juxtaposes industrial elements like off-white, in-situ concrete, and masonry brickwork sourced from the Grampians together with natural oak timbers, marble and metal tabletops, and leather banquette seating. Classic Akari Noguchi lanterns give the interiors a soft warm glow.
Working with a limited budget and a Japanese-influenced design brief, the firm set out to reconfigure the existing space, however, they also needed to update the public’s image of what the venue was. “Part of the project was actually to change the perception of their client base, allowing them to still retain their loyal customers during the morning and the daytime, whilst informing them that the venue was now also open evenings for dinner and as a bar,” architect Pete Kennon explains.
In addition, the venue is multi-functional and also used for events and private bookings—so the seating plan needed to be flexible. In addition to creating permanent corner booths and a long continuous bar, the firm chose the stackable, folding Storyteller’s chair as additional seating—choosing a natural finish for the interior spaces and a durable black exterior finish for the alfresco seating. “The design and the timber finish give the raw look of the interiors a softer edge,” adds Pete.
Comfort was also key, “It is common to see groups of people enjoying a longer lunch or someone escaping the streets to enjoy a coffee or something to eat. By the evening you get a sense that people can really nestle into the space—there’s no pressure to leave and the design is considered to ensure comfort. The cold beer and extraordinary food certainly help too.”