“Fine dining meets rock ‘n’ roll” was the concept for the conversion of a chapel in a former military hospital. Sounds incongruous? Absolutely. The result is anything but, seamlessly mixing luxe materials with a sense of morbid humour. Piet Boon Studio’s restaurant design for The Jane preserved the original chapel ceiling while creating a highly unique and contemporary dining space below. The centrepiece is the 800kg chandelier, custom made by .PS lab, a precarious piece that adds movement and directionality to the formally styled tables below. Watch the ‘making of’ video to see how the studio realised such an ambitious design.

The windows of the chapel have been replaced by stained glass, but again, it’s not the expected images of religious figures and biblical symbols. Designed by Studio Job, 500 panels show off a vivid, tattoo-style assortment of imagery – a bizarre and humorous mix ranging from gas masks to birthday cakes to penguins.

However, The Jane’s design doesn’t play novelty at the cost of functionality. The materials – natural stone, oak and leather – are made to age. Subdued in tone, they don’t seek to draw attention away from the more exuberant features of the space but instead to add complexity and sophistication to the dining experience. Elegance and irreverence. Stained glass and tattoo art. Like fine dining and rock ‘n’ roll: they shouldn’t work, but they do.

Photo: Richard Powers

Photo: Richard Powers

Photo: Richard Powers

For more images and details see Piet Boon Studio, Yatzer & Archdaily.


In a refurbished Art Deco era auto workshop in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo sits Riley St Garage, a gritty New-York borough inspired bistro. Realised by RAD Studios, the renovation plays up the industrial and structural elements of the space with exposed brick and the huge air conditioning duct that becomes a dominant design feature, delineating the central bar area. Gloss black subway tiles and tan leather banquettes as well as the vintage medicine cabinets in the bathrooms add to the retro-classic feel. Images via RAD Studios.


In a city full of noise, sometimes the way to stand out is to be quiet. London-based firm Alexander Waterworth Interiors has done just that with their understated and rustic design for Nolita’s The Musket Room. With the combination of a six metre long walnut bar, lime washed brickwork and greenery that carries through from the careful floral arrangements to the herb garden outside, the feel is much more rustic farmhouse than Michelin-starred restaurant. However, there is still a beautiful attention to detail which can be seen in the scalloped tiles of the bar that tessellate with distressed floorboards and the classic colour pairing of teal upholstery with brass chandeliers. Casual, subtle yet elegant, the space is a welcome refuge from the urban.

Photos by Emily Andrews for The Musket Room.


Photos by Emily Andrews for The Musket Room.


Photos by Emily Andrews for The Musket Room.


Chaotic, fragmented and vibrant, Philippe Starck’s take on Asian fusion is a crazy blend of cultures and colours. In the futuristic design, technology comes to the fore – the surface of the 26 metre long table is constructed from screens looping news channels from all over Asia, while scattered grains of rice are projected onto the walls. Combined with psychedelic wallpaper and eclectic lighting, the effect is of entering a world somewhere between Bladerunner and Alice and Wonderland. The concept revolves around the fictional Miss Ko – a faceless character covered in Yakuza-style full body tattoos that symbolise the junction of the modernity and traditions of Asia, as designed by Horikitsune and photographed By Uli Weber. Her form links the graphic design with the interior, giving the insanity of the space a strong sense of narrative. More at Designboom.

photo: designboom

photo: horikitsune


With a slick monochromatic palette and backstreet location, Michigan’s CVLT Pizza has some cool credentials. The mix of retro game machines, half-peeled graphic wall paper and pared-back design create an environment radically different from the classic pizza joint formula. Bonus points for the striking logo and graphic design. See more images at Retail Design Blog.


The latest addition to the Pablo and Rusty coffee empire spills golden light onto the city street – located in Sydney’s first 6-star green powered building, high-tech is countered by the industrial and authentic vibe of the interior. With high ceilings, timber finishes and exposed brick, it manages to be both grand and familiar. The highlight is the custom-made brass geometric pendant lighting which becomes the glowing focal point of the space. Read an interview with the designers from Giant Design at Yellowtrace.

The unique design of El Equipo Creativo‘s Restaurante Pakta finds its inspiration in a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian traditions. Pakta means union in the Quechua language, and this concept is reflected through the duality of the two main sections of the restaurant. The delicacy of the lines that enlace the ceiling and walls and the Latin American informed use of vibrant colour provides a direct link to traditional Peruvian craftsmanship in fabric-weaving, while the bar area at the front is a clear reference to the austerity of Japanese architectural principles. The linearity of the design creates movement and visual interest within an otherwise small space, and the kitchen is incorporated into the dining experience as a luminous box, where the chefs can seen through glass panels of various opacity.

The sleek, refined design of São Paulo’s Kaa transforms the restaurant experience into an urban oasis. Isolated from the city by the lush vertical garden containing over 7000 rainforest plants, the space is finished with hardwood, neutral fabrics and warm lighting to emulate the relaxed sophistication of a hotel lounge. A glass retractable roof allows for control of the elements, while the central water feature creates a serene ambiance.

The pared back design is complemented by the careful use of detail, such as the collection of vintage objects behind the bar. As Arthur Casas has said of his work, ‘It’s not about how much you spend, it’s your capacity to transform a space into something interesting.’ See more at the Cool Hunter and Timeout.

Eclectic and opulent, Luchetti Krelle’s design for Ananas Bar & Brasserie is a rich merging of old world colonial style and art nouveau detailing. The pineapple motif runs through the design, reappearing in the lighting and tiling. Furnishings sourced from Parisian markets and antique stores mix with bespoke upholstery and custom furniture, creating a quirky sense of French vintage glamour.

In a beautiful example of economically and environmentally conscious design, artists Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz’s cabin in the woods is entirely constructed of reclaimed materials for under $500. The front facade is a patchwork of windows, looking out onto a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Watch their short documentary here.

Of course, the creative ‘architecture without architects’ approach is not a new concept. This glass house in Danish commune Freetown, Christiana, uses the same techniques to construct something new out of almost nothing (see below). In our world of disposability and abundance, found materials are the antidote to both consumerist fever and the aftershocks of the GFC.

Using over 200 reclaimed doors and windows, Corvin Cristian has applied this scavenger aesthetic to create a quirky and rustic atmosphere in BON Restaurant, Bucharest. The rich textures and (mostly) original colours of the weathered secondhand materials are theatrically used to divide the restaurant and direct the gaze of the diner towards different elements of the space. In making recycled objects the main features of the design, sustainability is brought to the fore and the creation of the new is interwoven with the destruction of the old.

More photos at urdesign.