The Street Eats scene in Melbourne is definitely one that won’t be dimming anytime soon. There is something about being casually transported to a busy market stall in Vietnam, a muggy Gyros shop in Greece, or a fishing boat in Thailand that makes us go back for more.
With new hotspots popping up all the time for all kinds of cuisines, new kids on the block, Hawker Boys needed a home that would stand out to the Melbourne masses. Combining tastes of the Vietnamese and Chinese heritage of its owners, Hawker Boys serve up their homegrown flavour with a modern twist.
Enlisting the help of design agency STUDIO Y for the interior fit out, Hawker Boys have brought their food and heritage to the heart of Melbourne in the iconic Hardware Lane. STUDIO Y are behind some of Melbourne’s greatest venues, so we put down the Bahn Mi and had a chat with Lead Designer Yaron Kanor about the new Hawker Boys’ digs, and how the STUDIO Y creative process works.
In the beginning stages, what was your goal or main intention for the Hawker Boys’ design and fit out?
When first sitting down to establish a design brief for Hawker Boys, our goal was to replicate the busy, bright and communal atmosphere of the hawker markets in
Southeast Asia, to pay homage to the owner’s heritage and give diners an authentic experience.
What was your process for tying the ‘food’ and the ‘feel’ for Hawker Boys’ eatery together?
We wanted the food and feel of Hawker Boys to be a match made in heaven – both complementary of each other and both to accurately imitate their Asian counterparts. We loved the vibrancy of the ingredients and wanted this to translate to the design, which had a significant influence on the colour palette of teal and orange. Another feature that ties these two aspects together is the design of the communal dining space. By allowing diners the opportunity to share food and stories, the atmosphere comes alive.
Were there any challenges you came up against in this project?
The biggest challenge we came up against was creating the split-levels of the restaurant. The strategy was to bring the kitchen onto the ground level and serve on street level. This left the upper level as a separate space overlooking the kitchen and open to a communal dining area. It’s always difficult building and designing around separate levels but it also adds great dimension and variety to the space.
The new Hawker Boys space to is described as “chaotic, yet refined” which sounds like a complete paradox! How did you marry two totally different ideas like this together successfully?
Chaotic and refined sound like two different ends of the scale, but in regards to the design of Hawker Boys, they work perfectly together. It is all about finding the right balance between the two. Chaos is depicted through the bright colour scheme, many different materials and the busy custom mural using thick strokes and roughly filled-in spaces. To achieve a refined feel, we used clean angles with the rattan doors and neatly placed ingredients, as well as simple and uniform furniture.
STUDIO Y has designed a lot of well-known haunts throughout Melbourne, all of which have their own unique feel (Black Pearl in Fitzroy, Joylati in Prahran) – Do you find it difficult to create a new feel somewhere when beginning a new project? Or is it fun to do something new each time?
The STUDIO Y team pride ourselves on being able to bring a new and unique design to every project. Every space has its own story to tell and it is our job to bring that to life. It can sometimes be a challenge, but that’s what keeps our job exciting.
STUDIO Y’s design style is described as “Constructive Imagination” and “Playful Practicality” – some really important elements when designing a new hospitality space; it needs to look great, while maintaining functionality. Is there a set of rules or guidelines you and STUDIO Y keep in place to make sure a design is oozing with great quality, but still practical?
For every project, our starting point is the client brief and vision. This can reveal several potential anchor points for the overall concept, whether it’s the food, dining experience, lighting solutions or a key feature piece. As a concept orientated studio, we are able to visually create a memorable dining experience whilst also influencing the flow of the space. Functionality and design go hand in hand, especially when it comes to hospitality spaces.
What’s your favourite part of the new Hawker Boys design?
My favourite part would be the overall feel of the space as a whole; it’s fun and casual and has a story to tell. I love that you can watch your food being cooked right in front of you. It’s also the perfect place to chill out, relax and enjoy a lunch break.
85 Hardware Lane,
Melbourne VIC Australia 3000
Open 7 days