Di Stasio Citta


Opposite Melbourne’s treasury gardens is the new CBD location for restaurant Di Stasio. More akin to a club, you have to know how to get in. There is an uptake period. No signage, just a button to open and two full-height glass doors, the lower portion a deep red – “like an architectural negroni,” the client called them.

Di Stasio has a long history in Melbourne and the design has a sense of permanence. It represents the DNA of Di Stasio but takes it into a very different shell. The lofty spaces and brutalist approach are layered with intricate details. Restaurant, art gallery, institution – a unique crossing of Australia and Italy that is unlike anything else yet still represents the character of Di Stasio.

The design is experimental and unexampled. From the arrival through to the bathrooms, the guest experience is unlike any other restaurant. As the three-metre frameless glass doors slide open, a temperature-controlled air curtain transforms the guest from outside to in. The arrival tunnels through a narrowing vestibule and opens into the lofty, gallery like dining room. Life and movement create an immersive encounter with digital artworks by Reko Rennie and Shaun Gladwell. The compression, expansion and movement in the space creates a unique restaurant experience.

The brief for this art-filled restaurant’s design was driven by instinct, not fashion. Every surface is textural and hand finished, every piece of joinery and furniture customised to create a unique restaurant experience. The only compromise was time. The terrazzo floor took over six weeks to complete, bringing everything to a standstill on site.

The bar hides all the working areas. In the main dining areas, the temperature sensors are integrated into the stucco walls. The walls themselves have nothing on them. No switches, power points, control panels or speakers. The speakers are integrated into the window frames. The detailed design is about what you don’t see, which in turn, contributes to the experience.

Furniture: Grazia and Co, Dew Hurst Furniture. Lighting: Philips, Morano. Finishes: L&A Petrucelli, DeFazio. Fittings & Fixtures: Astra Walker, Duravit, Dline.

Photography: Peter Bennetts