ISSUE 32  |  Down Under

Dumpling Chic in Melbourne

August 11, 2014 3:00 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

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In his latest culinary venture, Ruyi Dumpling & Wine Bar, Melbourne restaurateur Sheng Fan wanted a design that’s as simple and fresh as the home-style dumplings he specializes in. His mandate for Melbourne architect Hecker Guthrie was to take tradition and turn it on its head. As Fan points out in The Urban List, “Chinese restaurants in the West are still very clichéd and predictable, with the interiors all red, green, and gold.” At Ruyi, earth-based tones update the familiar, while a mix of natural materials and finishes such as plywood, brass fixings, and handmade ceramics lend an entirely contemporary feel. 

Photography by Shannon McGrath via Yellow Trace, unless otherwise noted.

Above: Polished concrete floors and and pale wood furnishings give the restaurant a pared-down, utilitarian feel. See our primer on Polished Concrete Floors in Remodeling 101.

Above: The traditional strong reds and greens typically seen in Chinese restaurants have been translated into oxblood red Concrete and Wood Pendants by Thai designer Decha Archjananun and sage green shelving. 

Above: Bench seating is fashioned out of plywood wall panels that are held together with polished-brass dovetail joints.

Above: Linen and leather cushions provide bench comfort. Note the under-the-seat storage.

Above: A brass rail with hooks offers diners an easy place to hang coats.

Above: Sculptural Edizioni Zeus Occasional Tables by Prospero Rasulo are dotted around the dining area. Their porcelainized Gres finish works well with the restaurant’s handmade crockery.

Above: Fashioned by Melbourne ceramic artist Andrei Davidoff, the stoneware is on open display for easy access.

Above: Natural light filters in through large shop-front windows and is diffused by woven blinds. In 5 Strategies for Covering 50 Windows—for Under a Million Dollars and Remodeling 101: Simple Roller Blinds, we explore inexpensive window covering options.

Above: The restaurant’s fare is served in traditional bamboo steamers. Image via The Urban LIst.

Above: Two bands of white tiles in two different sizes add texture to the face of the bar. See our White Tile Pattern Glossary for more ideas on how to use white tiles. 

Above: In the bathroom a circular mirror hangs from a brass rod. The lighting that emanates from behind causes the mirror to glow like the moon, an important symbol in Chinese culture.

Above: Potted plants introduce more green, as does the restaurant’s clean and simple signage. 

Ruyi Dumpling & Wine Bar is in Melbourne’s Chinatown.

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, be sure to consult our City Guides for design-worthy destinations. On Gardenista, have a look at Fowlers Flowers in MelbourneFor another inventive Chinese canteen, see On Tap: Beer with Chinese Herbs at Beijing’s First Microbrewery.