Mr Joe is an all-day Japanese eatery in Richmond, Victoria. Melbourne-based Figureground Architecture completed the project in October 2018. The 190 sqm space was designed to complement the contemporary Japanese fusion menu.

“Whilst we wanted the restaurant to feel ‘Japanese’, it was important to us that the references should be indirect and contemporary rather than simplistic kitsch representations,” says the project team, Matt Rawlins and Kate Crosby.

Working with a relatively small budget, cost-effective efficiency was key. The main dining area is defined by a ‘service pod’, which neatly conceals the kitchen and amenities. The pod is constructed primarily from pale plywood, referencing the species of pine typically used in Japanese construction.

The restaurant furnishings are minimal, creating an appropriately zen aesthetic. Standout features include two blue mosaic tile columns, evocative of traditional Japanese pottery. Concrete floors and rendered cement walls enhance the underlying industrial edge to the space.

The existing low ceiling contained a tangled mess of pipes from the apartments above. Figureground painted the ceiling a uniform shade of indigo blue, camouflaging the pipes and defining a colour palette inspired by traditional Japanese art and furnishings. A sheet of suspended steel mesh hangs just below the ceiling, from which lighting and curtain tracks are attached.

There’s a seating option for everyone, including bar stools, a low communal table, and intimate built-in nooks. Grey linen curtains offer optional privacy for larger individual groups. Minimalist, black circular wall lights give a final nod to the land of the rising sun.


See more from Figureground Architecture on Yellowtrace here.


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[Images courtesy of Figureground Architecture. Photography by Ari Hatzis.]


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