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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
The sugar cane juices stand with similar font and bright colours can be found at Viet Nam streets and New Year festivals.
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.
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!
Interior design review written by Vi Nguyen
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