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52: 09 - Mina·no·ie

Name: Mina·no·ie
Address: 33 Peele St, Collingwood VIC
Phone: 9417 7749
Served by: Anna
Owner: Megumi & Zenta 

Super Tectonics loves all things Japanese. Take our name for example: the “Super” is an unashamedly blatant homage to internationally renowned Japanese Interior Design studio – Super Potato, of whom we place on a beautifully designed pedestal. Whilst “Tectonics” is a direct reference to the way ‘things’ are put together; and no body puts ‘things’ together better than the Japanese. Add to that the sound of a Japanese person saying Super Tectonics (Superu Tech-toni-koo) and amazing things happen. So when we recently visited the Japanese inspired Mina·no·ie in Collingwood, we quietly died and went to design heaven. Hai.

So what’s good about Mina·no·ie?

Two of Mina·no·ie’s most successful design features are non-physical elements. Firstly, the smell is amazing. Smell is so very underrated in Design these days (or often overdone) and its ability to enhance an environment immensely powerful. The subtle scent of traditional Japanese incense as you walk through the double height steel framed glazed doors is design win number one.

The second non-physical element that is immediately noticeable is acoustics. Venturing into the large warehouse space with hard materials and bare surfaces you would assume that the massive volume would be noisy and full of echoes. On the contrary the space is quiet, even at one-third capacity. The large void forces you to self regulate, you become aware of your presence and you lower your volume. Add to this exceptionally quiet kitchen staff, wait staff who are calm and measured and ambient music playing softly in the background, and you find yourself almost whispering so as to appreciate the quietness of the space.

In terms of aesthetics the cafe’s minimal intervention within the environment is one of it’s key features. The building was a former mechanics and it feels as if all of the cars have been backed out the expansive double height roller shutter and the joinery and furniture has simply been wheeled in, quietly of course. Everything touches lightly and it is this Japanese mentality that is so restrained, so carefully considered yet appearing so effortless that transports you.

There are four main zones within the space and in a similar model to A Bloc (see Project 52:08) Mina·no·ie have combined multiple offerings in the one location to strengthen the café experience and diversify from a business perspective in a competitive market. The kitchen zone is on full display. Open, low and visually accessible, all food and utensils are carefully ordered with precision for preparation, cooking and display. The wire hung range hood suspended above the open plan kitchen almost anchors the zone within the seemingly unlimited space. The seating zone has an almost wabi-sabi approach with long bench seats, two and four seaters and a delightful mix of chairs and tables in varying forms and timber finishes.

The urban nursery is positioned in a highly visible corner with a lush selection of indoor plants available for purchase. Carefully positioned on long trestle tables, hanging from the ceiling on thin rope and stacked on the upstairs entry level the plants not only insert ‘green’ into the otherwise neutral palettes, yet improve the quality of the space giving it an almost open-air feel.

Positioned in the far back corner of the café, with natural light flooding through the saw tooth roof, are a curated selection of home wares and books. Displayed like an exhibition, one wanders around the pieces inspecting the Japanese inspired ceramics, artefacts and contemporary creative books with reverence, but in this gallery you can actually pick the objects up. Smell them. Touch them. 

All of these carefully considered zones are placed against a textural backdrop, with the rear wall a landscape of vertical cardboard tubes, an obvious nod to the architecture of Shigeru Ban whilst the mezzanine above is a balustrade plane of calming turquoise, the only pop of colour in the space and it is done with perfection. 

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the volume of the space is humanised with a canopy of lights. Custom made from the same cardboard tubes that clad the rear wall, the hanging forms are carefully positioned and create a beautiful rhythm that matches the relaxed mentality of Mina·no·ie.

What could be better about Mina·no·ie?

One thing could be better. In winter the main entry door is confusing to open when it is closed. It’s difficult to figure out which of the glazed panels is operable and which one you pull or push. Clutching at straws we know.

What’s its thing?

It’s Japanese. We’re done.

Defining Design Details

  • Minimal Intervention –  Japanese sensibility mastered.
  • Equal weighing – Form and Function are celebrated in unison.
  • Cardboard tube pendant lights – As individual objects they are divine, but en masse they are breathtaking.
  • The branding – hand written fonts, beautiful stock, simple layouts.
  • Acoustic sensibility – silence as a design element, masterful.
  • True Contemporary Japan – get out of the main cities, into the suburbs and this is what Japanese cafes look like. Honest and real.