“Every time it rains in Tokyo, there’s the effect of dappled neon lighting reflected in the pools of water on the pavements,” says George, pointing out the rippled polished stainless steel used above the ceiling of the bar on the first floor.
Other reflections come from the structural columns edged in mirror to give the effect of continuous, never-ending spaces.
Russell & George also used a special film on the restaurant’s glass walls that plays with the idea of changing space and colour.
So, the large glass pendant lights, measuring up to 800 millimetres in diameter, appear through the mind’s eye in multiples, further animating the spaces.
“We wanted to transport guests into a different place, creating a sense of disbelief with a few strategic moves,” says Bryon, referring to a stainless-steel exterior pillar that appears as cobalt blue.
Other effects that take one to Tokyo include a large photograph by Tom Blachford.
As with Russell & George’s approach, his images have been subverted, including a suspended bright yellow taxi appearing to move forward without its wheels.
While illusionary devices create an exciting atmosphere, pivotal to Yakimono’s design is the large open kitchen at the core of the main restaurant (the bar area and terrace are located above).
With many kitchens, there’s often a glimpse into the workings of a great meal.
In this instance, 85 per cent of the kitchen is visible to patrons, with the stainless-steel edge wide enough to allow for plating and service of dishes.
However, unlike the figuration of many Japanese restaurants, where bench seats are aligned to the bar, here the placement of tables is at a 90-degree angle, allowing people to enjoy the experience of food being prepared but not feeling as part of the process.
Russell & George also included other seating arrangements such as bar and banquet-style, along with booth seating on the level above, evoking the seating one would find on a Japanese train.
Other chairs, designed by Ross Diddier, feature scooped timber backrests that create a level of comfort and robustness.
And those wanting a quieter environment can reserve the private banquet room that provides seating for up to 12 people.
Russell & George has carried the Tokyo theme down to the finest detail.
Even the door to the bathroom comes with the photographic image of a clipped poodle and, upon entry, the use of mirrors turns a rather ubiquitous space into one that appears to go on indefinitely.
While it’s pure Tokyo, the outlook over Collins Street from the bathroom is a reminder that Yakimono is firmly ensconced in Melbourne.