Restaurant Design—Surry Hills, Sydney

Masala Theory

The owner of Masala Theory, Yashpal Erda, said there’s a part of India Sydney doesn’t get to see. It’s the new part; young entrepreneurs mixing tradition with globalism and the food of their childhood with what they see on Instagram and eat overseas. Yashpal’s design brief was for this to be exposed at the Crown Street restaurant site.

He wanted to change the perception that he believes people in Australia have of India and Indian food. He made a point that if you go to a marriage in India, everyone will wear traditional clothes but they'll also have Ray-Bans and be hipsters. He wanted this new-wave look to come through in his restaurant fit out.

The challenge was to illustrate this exciting balance of new and old India in the materials, furniture and accessories. The best example of this modern/authentic mashup was the vintage Indian bicycle mounted above the entrance fireplace with two neon pink laminated LED rings attached to both wheels.

After appointing Desmond Sweeney from 8 Foot Walls, we came up with the concept of an aged patina to be applied by hand onto all interior wall surfaces as a base. The branding and graphics team in India created these incredible whimsical scenes from India that we projected onto the walls as murals, which Desmond and his team painted with a deliberate faded effect. One wall is dotted with black and yellow vintage signs with Indian sayings, another wall with randomly framed graphics of strange characters. It’s chaotic but fun, there's a whimsical part of modern India in each corner. There are colonial Indian antiques dotted around the place, along with a wall of brass tiffin lunch boxes and a contrasting bright blue and orange wall paneling to break up the murals but also aid as additional storage for table condiments.

Masala Theory was a playground for the food and interiors to encapsulate Indian antiquity and modernity in a cosy neighborhood restaurant.

Services: Full service restaurant design and decoration, furniture selection, lighting design, accessories, materials and finishes, landscaping consultation, construction advice on site.

Architect: Danny Broe Architects

Builder: Christian Gladdish

Murals & Painting: 8 Foot Walls

Photographer: Kai Leishman

Media: Broadsheet Sydney