Pho Nom Emporium

PHO NOM RESTAURANT – EMPORIUM MELBOURNE

The Emporium Melbourne is giving the traditional food court a very modern and chic makeover. No longer just a space with typical food stalls, the Emporium’s basement food court has attracted the express lunch crowd via its indoor street style.

Source: Nourish

Source: Nourish

To stand out in a bustling food court however takes creative interior design work. A restaurant perhaps only takes 5 seconds to invite you to sit down and glance at their menu. Recently, I discovered a new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Nom, who not only embraced the challenges of the food court, but also fused traditional Vietnamese elements with contemporary design. Here’s how they did it.

~

THE WELCOMING APPROACH
Pho Nom stands out amongst its competition by focusing on their location as being ‘the corner’. As you walk from either side, the extreme angle enhances your perspective of the restaurant. This is known as “oblique approach”(1) in the design industry.

Left & right view of dining tables immediately inviting potential customers to take a seat.

Left & right view of dining tables immediately inviting potential customers to take a seat.

Source: Francis D.K. Ching - Architecture: Form, Space & Order

Source: Francis D.K. Ching – Architecture: Form, Space & Order

Food courts are naturally busy and fast paced environments. Pho Nom has played this to their advantage by removing barriers to appear more inviting and bustling to potential customers.

Displaying customer's presence to attract more customers during peak hours.  Source: Apal

Displaying customer’s presence to attract more customers during peak hours.
Source: Apal

Restaurants are social spaces that bring people together by creating a warm atmosphere. Pho Nom achieved this by having long share tables instead of standalone tables. This is also similar to how Vietnamese would eat communally.

Pho Nom’s shared dining tables similar to Vietnam’s street restaurants communal dining style. Source: Nourish (Top Left), Google (Top Right)

Pho Nom’s shared dining tables similar to Vietnam’s street restaurants communal dining style.
Sources: Nourish (Left); Ravenous (Right)

FUSION BETWEEN TRADITIONAL ELEMENTS AND CONTEMPORARY DESIGN
Previously, I mentioned that Pho Nom is going for a warm inviting approach. Pho Nom achieved this by creating a sentimental experience through their selection of furniture, materiality and props.

Furnitures
Below, are some of the photos to show you the Vietnam Ha Noi’s streets where locals enjoy their meal. Can you spot out the similarities?

Common furniture such as low plastic stools depicted in VietNam Ha Noi’s street restaurants. Source: Eatyourbooks

Common furniture such as low plastic stools depicted in VietNam Ha Noi’s street restaurants.
Sources: Eatyourbooks (left); EkayaSolutions (right)

I’m not sure about Pho Nom’s decision in the first two chairs here. I think they’re trying to achieve the café style, but I feel it could be better with the plastic cheap look. However, the black stool is a tick for me due to its curved edges similar to the low plastic stools in the previous image. What do you think?

1. Wooden stools & Blue Tiled dining table surface 2. Wooden & red chairs & tables. 3. Black tall stools & Polished concrete bench.

1. Wooden stools & Blue Tiled dining table surface
2. Wooden & red chairs & tables.
3. Black tall stools & Polished concrete bench.

EDIT: I’ve just learnt from the owners that the decision to go with these chairs is because of sustainability reasons. From sourcing ingredients with ethical primary producers to materials, plastic does not fit their vision. As a result, these chairs align with the high quality requirements within the developer’s design brief while still fitting Emporium’s focus on modern, on-trend and engaging design.

Black tall stools for individual diners

Black tall stools for individual diners

These stools here are placed in the corner which encourage you to eat alone comfortably by positioning away from strangers. When you use objects in space to create privacy, this is known as “anchoring behaviour”.(2) On another note, I also questioned the sharp angle bench for safety reasons because someone can seriously get injured!

Materiality
Materials such as bamboo and wooden sawdust are generally used to create a natural feel which suggests to me that their ingredients are organic and fresh from the farm. Here, Pho Nom combined a mix of Asian and Western style.

Display menu in steel structure with bamboo-like joints. Source: Nourish

Display menu in steel structure with bamboo-like joints.
Source: Nourish

Squared frames with diagonal lines using wooden sawdust resemble barn cottage’s structure.

Squared frames with diagonal lines using wooden sawdust resemble barn cottage’s structure.

Props
Pho Nom clutters the space with props that are commonly used in Vietnamese restaurants, local supermarket and street stalls. These following props will hint you what type of cuisine you are expecting on the table!

Pho Nom’s simplified neon logo contrast against the dark identifies itself as a Pho restaurant.  Source: Pho Hien Vuong, Footscray (right)

Pho Nom’s simplified neon logo contrast against the dark identify itself as a Pho restaurant.
Source: Pho Hien Vuong, Brisbane (right)

Display cases of sauces on dining tables hint to  customers that Pho Nom serves Vietnamese cuisines.

Display cases of sauces on dining tables commonly used in Vietnamese food.

While the display shelf suggest their food contains high quality brands and fresh ingredients, the shelf is also positioned diagonally to draw your eyes into the kitchen where the broth is boiling behind the scenes, the soul of pho.

Sauces displayed on a shelf, backed with hanging baskets of fresh herbs resembles the local supermarket.

Sauces displayed on a shelf, backed with hanging baskets of fresh herbs resembles the local supermarket.

The sugar cane juices stand with similar font and bright colours can be found at Viet Nam streets and New Year festivals.

1. Pho Nom's customed Sugar Cane Vendor 2. New Year Festival in Melbourne Source: Sophie in Melbourne 3. Sugar Cane Vendor in Vietnam  Source: Kathmandu and Beyond

1. Pho Nom’s customed Sugar Cane Vendor
2. New Year Festival in Melbourne
3. Sugar Cane Vendor in Vietnam
Sources: Sophie in Melbourne (Middle); Kathmandu and Beyond (Right)

The simplest tool to create a theme is decorating with wallpapers. Since there are limited wall spaces, the designer has covered a single feature wall with retro graphic posters. This also gave me an impression of a street laneway looking into the kitchen’s backyard in Vietnam.

Source: Nourish (left)

A single feature wall with retro graphic posters creates a contemporary feel of a street laneway.

These posters also communicate fun messages: “Pho? It’s FUR not FOE”. This actually made me laugh because it is one of the most common words we often have to teach others!

~

Pho Nom’s interior design captures a typical Vietnamese restaurant in the most playful and creative approach. The contemporary design creates an enjoyable experience giving me a lasting and memorable impression. Even the name is easy to remember: Pho nom nom nom!

Bowl of Pho Bo & Banh Mi, Fresh Coconut Drink

Bowl of Pho Bo & Banh Mi, Fresh Coconut Drink

Interior design review written by Vi Nguyen

Restaurant Name: Pho Nom
Location:
Emporium Melbourne – Basement Level
Interior Designer:
Aesthetica Design Group
Brand Designer: Nourish Brands

References

1. Francis D.K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space and Order (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons ). 243.

2. Stephani Robson.”Strategies for Designing Effective Restaurants”. Informedesign. Accessed July 2014. http://www.informedesign.org/_news/dec_v02-p.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s