Restaurant Orana: Where innovative Australian design and cuisine meet
Grounded by a focus on the natural landscape and local ingredients, Adelaide’s highly acclaimed Restaurant Orana combines the incredible talents of chef Jock Zonfrillo and furniture designer-maker Lex Stobie, to create a unique, organic dining experience that pays homage to indigenous Australia.
The space is furnished with mid-century inspired furniture crafted by Lex from sustainable Tasmanian Blackwood, in a nod to the distinctive palette and textures of the Australian bushland.
“When you walk into Orana you see the table legs, randomly burnt from the bottom up; some heavily scarred by the fire, others just lightly. It is exactly the same as walking through a forest where there has been a bushfire, the trees show random burning from the base up.” says Zonfrillo.
“In a really beautiful way it gives our guests a connection to the Orana philosophy in a way we often can’t through our food.”
Tasmanian Blackwood doesn’t just play a feature role in the décor in Zonfrillo’s flagship restaurant, it’s also a timber used in Orana’s kitchens daily. For many native wild ingredients, cooking them in a solution of water and ash draws out astringency and bitterness making them edible. “Blackwood is my favourite timber for this process so I was naturally drawn towards it.” says Zonfrillo.
Although the material had been decided upon from the start, it took the pair a year to land on a concept for a smart, flexible table design that allowed for an increased number of covers with minimal fuss.
Here’s what Lex had to say about his innovative design and the process from concept to completion.
What was it that inspired the design for the Orana dining tables?
The design was a combination of a lot of ideas thrown into one. Jock didn’t want that ghastly ‘seam’ on an extension table that two people are stuck with. I suppose, when you visit Chinese restaurants and you watch them roll out a large tabletop and put it on top of another table, that’s kind of the premise of where it all came from.
Why did you choose Tasmanian Blackwood as your Australian hardwood?
We chose it because of the identity that Tasmanian Blackwood has. It’s very indicative of Tasmania, where it’s grown. The material itself is so varied in its colour; when you look at the palette of Australia, the bushland and the deserts; the colours in the Blackwood really reflect those colours in our landscape. You can’t get that timber anywhere else in the world; it’s unique to Australia.
Was using a sustainable wood important to you?
I feel very strongly about using sustainable materials. Given the nature of what we’re doing, manufacturing furniture from timber, we need to consider the process and aftermath of what we’ve actually done with our resource.
What was it like to work with Tasmanian Blackwood?
I found that it responded incredibly well to the machining process. It’s a stable material. It’s very easy to sand and very easy to shape and it gives it a really nice overall lustre.
What makes Tasmanian Blackwood unique to other premium hardwoods that are imported?
I feel good about the material. I know where it’s coming from, and I like the way that the Blackwood has so many different hues to its colouring. Also, I like that you can get it within Australia quite readily, in lengths longer than what is usually available to us. For imported products, the length is constricted to the size of a shipping container and what can fit inside that.
How would you describe the end result?
I’m very happy with it. I’m a bit surprised that I even came up with it, to be honest! It’s been received very well and has led onto new products and commissions in a very similar interpretation.