Designed by Miriam Fanning, this Far-North Queensland establishment injects a sultry ambience, all achieved through natural materials, contemporary furnishings and idyllic views
Back in 2003, I was working on the design of a Palm Cove resort and met Jason [Rowbottom, co-owner] who had bought a nearby site [with chef Nick Holloway]. Jason explained that he wanted the new restaurant to have a fresh and contemporary look, and we teamed up to work on the fitout.
“For inspiration, Jason mentioned that the word ‘nu nu’ means ‘nude coconut’ in East Timor or ‘sweet little thing’ in the Cook Islands. It meant that the restaurant needed to have something fairly textured, breezy and very modern.
“It was obvious that the design would be defined by the architecture of the space. It’s very open without walls. When eating at Nu Nu, you experience and become part of the environment. The space is anchored with dark timbered flooring.
“The roof is made of a tensioned membrane material that is weatherproof but allows in plenty of natural light. The protected melaleuca trees running along the promenade are very much a part of the local environment. The melaleucas also add to the internal environment by extending through the main dining zone.
“During the day, natural light is diffused through the roof structure, making it feel bright and airy. The sound and sight of the ocean permeates the room, creating a wonderful tropical atmosphere. At night, ‘Coral’ pendant lights in bamboo plywood by David Trubridge [www.davidtrubridge.com] illuminate the space, along with candles on the tables. It’s warm and inviting, and just the place for an extended dinner.
“There isn’t any artwork within the restaurant as it’s free of walls on which to hang it. Artwork wouldn’t be able to compete with the ocean views this site commands. As the restaurant is so open to its surroundings, you are very much part of the environment. If there’s a storm, pull-down plastic sides are operated, enabling patrons to eat in comfort with wild nature just outside.
“Sheer blue and silver curtains run along either side of the dining area which delicately demarcates the space while allowing the breeze free access. White tables are complemented with natural timber chairs from Melbourne’s Hermon & Hermon. Two large banquettes with white and pale blue cushions add a lounge-type feel. Customised wall panelling with textured wallpaper placed in a random pattern, located near the kitchen, creates a fresh, contemporary feel to the concierge and bar zone.
“Nick Holloway looked after the design and fitout of the kitchen. In the dining area, up to eighty five patrons can be seated.
“The functionality works really well now; the wait staff can move around easily, but it took a while to get it right. It was an evolving process in the beginning.
“I’ve eaten there when on holidays and the menu is fantastic. It’s such a relaxed, welcoming room yet the food is quite upmarket. It’s so much more than a standard bistro that I call it ‘casual deluxe dining’.”
Miriam Fanning, director of Mim Design
1/4 Bond Street South Yarra, VIC
Tel: (03) 9826 1266