“Double rainbow all the way across the sky!” With that simple phrase you are welcomed through the front doors of Chi Chi, Matt Woods Design’s latest hospitality project. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase we suggest you Google it. The attention grabbing neon is reflective of the humorous tongue-in-cheek response to what has ultimately been the studio’s most trend-conscious project to date.
The Chi Chi Group is taking a punt here. The restaurant is located in the south western Sydney suburb of Canley Heights (a stone’s throw from Cabramatta), one of the countries most multicultural areas, well known for it’s traditional Asian flavoured, no frills, lowcost dining experiences. Whilst it’s apparent you may find Sydney’s best value pho in the area, this is uncharted territory for a modern, inner-city styled Asian restaurant and bar.
Some might say risky business, however noting both the heavy foot traffic of the Canley Vale Road dining strip, and the mass exodus of the area’s youth (who flock to the city’s east to experience bars and restaurants of a similar ilk) it was a risk worth taking.
To possibly alleviate some of this risk, the brief called for a fit out reflective of the name; Chi Chi: affectedly pretty or stylish,
deliberately chic. As such, the fit out responds with confidence and good humour.
In addition, the aforementioned trusses are illuminated with strategically placed LED strips, and the render over the existing brick wall is peeled back at a 45º angle to create a series of almost silhouetted peaks.Throughout the interior, mild steel, concrete, copper, brass, marble and reclaimed timber are used in their raw state, envisioned to patina as the fit out comes of age. In contrast, the giant magenta fusuma screens (dividing the dining room from the bar) along with blasts of eggplant and yellow within joinery and furniture items set a playful tone. The result is an attempt to ensure patron’s eyes are kept on the move whilst new feature finishes focus on individual materials intrinsic value.
A rough and ready, floor-to-ceiling Manga-styled super graphic, courtesy of the lads at SPECIAL, runs the entire length of the dining
room. Stare long enough at the wheat paste-up (installed by the designers themselves) and you’ll find a proliferation of irreverent and cheeky pandas poking fun at pop culture icons such as Daft Punk, Pulp Fiction, skeletal zebras and even the front-loading washing machine. The one in the shades is Ming, whilst the lucky waving panda is, of course, Chi Chi.