Designed in hawker style, new restaurant Tanoon Mai takes its inspiration from the juxtaposition of Thai street food culture and European colonial architecture. Located in Chatswood, on the outskirts of Sydney, the designers at Vie Studio experimented with different architectural elements and familiar domestic fittings to create the illusion of al fresco dining, despite the restaurant being situated in a shopping centre.
A modest food cart displaying local produce awaits customers at the entrance to the restaurant, reminiscent of a Thai street food setting, and cobblestones are used to give an impression of a path or lane.
Panels of windows made from FSC certified plywood and individually hand-painted in the exuberant colours used in European colonial buildings that abundantly line the streets of Thailand are mirrored on two opposite walls of the dining hall. The windows have more than one function, serving as a display for Thai produce and ornaments, as well as concealing a waiter station.
A modern interpretation of the ordinary picket fence hangs from the ceiling, which is inverted to push the boundary of perception of a regular ceiling and window.
The design concept is reinforced by injecting Thai and western emblems, motifs and seals that embody richness and depth into the graphics. Using an intense colour scheme adds vibrant energy to the interior, and encourages interaction between the customers and vendor. Thailand is a country legendary for its exquisite silk and textiles, and the elegant fabric used on the seat cushions is a reminder of this.
Lighting is central to the creation of a stylish ambience in the restaurant. Ethnic Thai lampshades and concealed LEDs to highlight the laser-cut ceiling feature at the centre, while specially selected traditional decorative wall lights further enrich the urban street concept.
Images © Andrew Worssam