For Kōri Ice Cream, scooped into a narrow two-level heritage façade in the bustling Glenferrie Road precinct of inner Melbourne, Architects EAT has blended contemporary minimalism and loud Japanese hyperpop into a delight for the senses.
Pint-sized Kōri Ice Cream in Hawthorn has become an instant smash-hit in Melbourne’s crowded dessert scene, pushing the boundaries of flavour and aesthetics with its Nipponophile menu and bold design. Inspired by their trips abroad and indulging their mutual love of Japan, ex-Press Club and Coda chef Joane Yeoh and Bernard Chu, co-founder of South Yarra patisserie LuxBite, match the ingenuity of Architects EAT’s design with their own culinary brilliance.
Possibly the boldest thing about the project is its simplicity; an asymmetrical datum line splits the design, inside and out, into either crisp white or vibrant coral, like two scoops of ice cream nestled into a cup. With impressive dedication, no other colour or shade will be found until you are handed a delicious scoop of one of the 24 Japanese-inspired flavours or eye one of the impressive manga-esque desserts. The effect is all the more impactful sitting between two vigorously bland buildings – a bank and the office for a local member of parliament – like a Kawaii-pop kid in a family portrait full of accountants.
The coral colour that traverses the design is named ‘retro disco’, which could not be more ironic against the store’s futuristic punk aesthetic inspired by the graphic posters of the Japanese hyperpop movement. Nothing escapes the dichromatic palette, with furniture, lighting, cone holders and signage all equally powder-coated to match the paint colour as it slices the room in two. On the coral side, the flavour list is barely legible against the brightness of the painted wall, the colour running down through the back bar into the matching-toned steel surfaces and fridges.
You enter on the white side, crossing the exposed industrial concrete flooring. White powder-coated aluminium shelving with in-built cone holders greets you on the left, patiently waiting for you to return with your delicious selection, while moonlight drapery softens the far end of the room. The room is divided in two by the reflective galvanised steel island bench, which houses all the dispensing freezers, cutlery, electronics and storage in one place. This embodies the generosity of Japanese hospitality, where the server never has to leave or turn their back to help the customer. This intimacy is also expressed through the lack of screens or borders around the counter; the whole space opens up to welcome you as you enter.
Blending Japanese culture with a contemporary edge, Kōri Ice Cream pushes both visual and flavour boundaries. Inspired by the bright palettes of Japan’s Kawaii culture, Architects EAT has created a design with impressive coherence, turning the simple pleasure of getting an ice cream into a bold and exciting experience.