restaurant interior designer

How I designed – Little Brother kiosk at Richmond Traders – a hospitality design story.

I was appoached during winter 2023 by a previous hospitality design regarding a project. The client reached out about an opportunity to design and specify a food kiosk at Richmond Traders shopping centre. The client is Little Brother Vietnamese Bar and Kitchen. A client I first worked with in 2018 on their first restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD. This is how I designed the Little Brother Vietnamese kiosk at Richmond Traders, completed in May 2024.

The Interior Design Brief for Little Brother kiosk

My clients had a solid business plan for this kiosk with clear goals. For example, they wanted a different target audience to their city premises. They also wanted to extend trading hours to evenings.

Post pandemic evening trade has suffered in some parts of Melbourne’s CBD. So my client was seeking to find a new market for their food offering.

Another key aspect of the brief was about improving the value of the brand for future resale value. Therefore, return on investment was a key component to this hospitality design brief.

My responsibility was to build the brand through hospitality design. To ensure the business had value to potential buyers in the future.

Aesthetically the Little Brother kiosk at Richmond Traders was to reveal similar attributes to the city location.

This includes incorporating the brand colours, and materials, textures and shapes synonymous with Vietnamese street food culture.

The brief also needed to incorporate all the guidelines as outlined in the Richmond Traders kiosk tenancy design rules and regulations.

Key rules and regulations included observing height, lighting and articulation design elements in the counters and internal joinery. As well signage guidelines and aesthetic direction.

The floor plan for Little Brother Vietnamese kiosk

My first task was to hand draw the floor plan for the kiosk within the lease lines. Originally, the lease line including a seating zone of approximately 14 chairs.

The shape of the lease zone was odd. Mostly triangular with a concrete column in the centre of the space.

A key consideration for the kiosk floor plan was the customer journey. Where was the natural starting point considering pathways, entrance and exit points and the other traders.

I also needed to know the equipment. My client sent me an equipment list with measurements so that I can hand draw to scale the cooking line, desk zone, prep areas and so on.

My first sketch presented an empty space internal to the kiosk. Which was not deemed suitable with the Richmond Traders tenancy guidelines. We had to ‘fill’ the kiosk to ensure appropriately desirable sight lines.

Another key consideration was efficiency of movement within the kiosk from the cooking line to the middle prep area to the front pick up bench.

The internal kiosk also included a dish wash island, suitable storage facilities and a large exhaust which required ample access for cleaning.

For the seating zone, which was later removed from the lease line, I had to design boundary screens which contained my client’s seating area within the invisible line of their lease.

Later the seating zone was removed from the lease for various reasons such as budget and creative differences. This was a good outcome for my client. As it meant their lease reduced and their cleaning responsibilities were limited to the kiosk.

We did maintain the integrated high bar seating zone within the kiosk.

Aesthetics, colours, materials, textures

My approach to hospitality design is holistic (link). What this is means is that all the touch points of the hospitality business tell the same story.

From the website, to the name of the hospitality business, to the menu, graphic design and of course interior design the customer will see a consistent story being told.

This was the mood board we presented to the landlord, it included obvious Vietnamese cultural references.

Which both my client and I thought were crucial to the visual representation of the kiosk, however key elements such as the lanterns were not approved as in keeping with the centre aesthetic.

Many compromises were made in the overall look at feel of the Little Brother Vietnamese kiosk, however the hospitality design elements that remained were carefully chosen and symbolic of my client’s brief and Vietnamese street food culture.

For example, the terracotta tiles were chosen as my clients were inspired by a terracotta feature wall they saw in a restaurant they visited while in Vietnam

The terracotta tiles also reflect a style of clay pot cooking that is part of Vietnamese cuisine.

For a warm, textural element I specified rattan. Found in Vietnamese style cone hats for example.

The cone shape of Vietnamese hats is also found in the pendant light fittings which were painted blue to reflect the brand colours.

Finished Little Brother Vietnamese kiosk

The kiosk was drawn by Interiorscape and constructed by MDT Building Services. From assisting with the drawings and elevations to project managing a smooth build both Interiorscape and MDT Building Services did incredible work to bring the Little Brother kiosk to life.

Every project presents unique challenges and there is no such thing as a perfect space. Therefore, there were compromises we had to make to ensure the successful delivery of this project.

But at the centre of every project is the client and their vision and goals and I’m very proud of designing a kiosk that is precise internally.

Has a good and efficient workflow inside and a good flow of movement for the customers on the outside.

The Little Brother Vietnamese kiosk is a prominent retailer within the Richmond Traders centre and the final aesthetic is congruent with the other retailers in the centre for a cohesive overall look and feel.

Theatre of food was a key theme presented in the tenancy guidelines and I believe we have created a made to order food kiosk that can proudly take centre stage in an important community hub such as Richmond Traders shopping centre.

I relished this opportunity of created the Little Brother Vietnamese Kiosk. Including the challenges presented but most of all I relished the completed project and am proud to add this hospitality design project to my portfolio as a space with both architectural and interior design integrity.