Kumo Izakaya and Sake Bar stands proud at the corner of Lygon and O'Connor Streets in Brunswick East. The building is iconic to the area and was built in 1956 – we know this because the bricks have the souvenir Olympics rings released during the Melbourne Olympics. Originally a bank, it took us two days to cut through the vault to make our sake store!

This old bank was transformed in Kumo Izakaya by Bryce Ritchie (artisan builder and craftsman from Richie Built Designer Builders - winners of the Award for Sustainable Architecture 2010), who worked as lead designer in a collaborative team involving architect Victor Isobe (from Zen Design, known in Melbourne for Yu-U, Heirloom and Tempura Hajime) and owners Andre and Jo Bishop.

The eclectic Japanese design style seamlessy blends industrial and Art Deco influences.

Every detail of the design at Kumo has been considered and reconsidered in an meticulous process of finding a whimsical yet true balance between: the beautiful bones of the historic building, which reflect the Japanese notes of its natural materials (stone, wood, concrete, steel & glass) and simple, modernist proportions; and featuring the natural synergy between industrial Japanese and Art Deco.


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As the design evolved, we were inspired by the influence of Japanese art, primarily ukiyo-e woodblock prints on modernist architects (most notably Frank Lloyd Wright). The wood block prints that first arrived in Europe in the late 1880s were the seed of Art Nouveau - the new aesthetic that distinguished itself away from frilly Victorian detail & realism and towards flowing, natural, botanically-inspired shapes and simple 2D flat geometry. We saw the 'borrowed' patterns and shapes taken from the Japanese design and widely copied within Art Nouveau and, later, Art Deco an extension of Art Nouveau that simplified and moved toward a more machine-oriented and streamlined industrial aesthetic.

You'll find many recycled 'found objects' from the original 1956 decor as well as great use of recycled Victorian Ash and Tassie Oak (in particular the eight metre communal table, which seats 26, and the 15 metre bar, seating 18). You'll also find 1930s inspired, bespoke made bar stools and chairs (modelled on a traditional machinist's chair) with hand-crafted iron frames, and dusky dark green and blue leather seats. Special care has been taken to source hand-painted lamp shades reminiscent of those found in the State Library Reading Room - which create pools of light that welcome intimate conversation. Many of the details at Kumo have been hand made by local craftspeople and artisan builders and we're extremely proud of Kumo.

Whether your're at the bar, on the communal table, or huddled in a booth, there's something for everyone - including a 10-seater tatami room for private dining.