“We wanted to express Ben’s creative culinary energy, while still paying respect to his traditional training and background,” says Genesin.
“And we also needed Viet Next Door to embody the Phan family’s welcoming hospitality and friendly approachable spirit.” His resulting scheme for the Vietnamese tapas bar-style eatery is equal parts boutique sophistication and everyday simplicity.
Genesin favours a minimalist aesthetic and it’s expressed with the utmost respect for quality craftsmanship. His commissioning of ceramicist Damon Moon and metalsmith Christian Hall (Creative Directors of JamFactory’s Ceramics and Jewellery & Metal studios respectively) to design Viet Next Door’s lighting not only reflects this but also reinforces Phan’s commitment to supporting local design.
Moon and Hall’s custom brass and hand-thrown ceramic sconces and pendants beautifully punctuate the space, adding to the interior’s finely handcrafted appearance.
It’s an artisanal sensibility that’s echoed throughout the restaurant’s detailing, in particular, the walls behind the cream coloured booths, which are oak-strapped and inlaid with woven grass wallpaper. In a nod to Phan’s heritage, this finish references traditional grass and bamboo huts found in Vietnamese villages, while tabletops have been made using the ancient craft of eggshell mosaic.
Both the wallpaper and tabletops complement trendy persimmon coloured leather and fabric entry seating, ensuring the old-meets-new concept is well balanced for timeless appeal. As Genesin notes, “My job was to meld themes of tradition and family with a sense of the contemporary in order to make Viet Next Door a true destination.”
One of the interior’s most memorable features is the use of deep grey granite on the bar, flooring and rear wall. This dark material might have made the space appear heavy, but instead adds cohesion and draws the eye towards the back of the restaurant, making it seem larger.
The granite’s naturally speckled surface also contrasts nicely with the design’s oak features. It adds yet another level of tactility to the overall scheme, which is undoubtedly Genesin’s most elegant accomplishment to date.