2016 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Tetsujin Bar & Restaurant [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Derek Swalwell



Project Overview

Drawing inspiration from the Japanese culture of machines, Principle Design crafted a vibrant visual language for the environmental graphics and branding of Tetsujin Bar & Restaurant. Tetsujin’s contrasting dynamics inspired the concept of ‘Order vs. Chaos’, which was realised through wall graphics and interior signage that reflect the changes in mood and tone throughout the restaurant.

Project Commissioner


Project Creator

Principle Design


Sash Fernando - Creative Director
Ruwani Fernando - Studio Manager
Julian Brown - Senior Designer
Nicki Hlavacek - Designer
Emily Enrica - Designer
Samuel Ho - Designer

Project Brief

Principle Design was engaged to create a brand and wayfinding system for Tetsujin Bar & Restaurant nestled within Emporium, Melbourne. Tetsujin offers a unique dining experience ranging from a bright sushi train to a smoky BBQ area, which incorporates a sultry bar. The visuals needed to work cohesively with the interiors designed by Architects EAT, reflect the unusual dining concept and create a cohesive visual narrative throughout the restaurant.

A flexible brand language was necessary to allow for extension across wall graphics, interior and exterior signage and collateral.

Project Innovation/Need

Tetsujin needed a distinctive brand to help it stand out within Melbourne’s restaurant scene. Visual references to Japanese culture were essential but it was also important to introduce customers to the unique concept of the restaurant. Principle Design saw this as an exciting opportunity to craft a visual language that reflects the dual personalities of the restaurant.

Working collaboratively with Architects EAT, Principle Design created environmental graphics that could be seamlessly integrated into the interior spaces to introduce an evocative tone and mood to the restaurant.

Design Challenge

The challenging aspect of this project was creating a cohesive brand language that would reflect and unify the conflicting ambiance within the restaurant. The graphic elements needed to convey the bright atmosphere of the sushi train and the smoky BBQ area and bar in one overarching visual language. Drawing parallels between the duality of the restaurant and the extremities that exist within Japanese design we crafted an aesthetic based around the opposing principles of ‘Order vs. Chaos’.

The concept was realised in the highly structured graphic elements that form the foundations of the brand and were influenced by the uniformity of the Japanese subway. This was built upon and juxtaposed by frenzied, repetitive patterns inspired by the ubiquitous presence of machinery within Japanese daily life– from trains and vending machines to cameras and robots.

Illustrations from instruction manuals and stylized Japanese characters were interwoven with city shots and static textures to create rich, intensely stimulating wall graphics. Soft salmon and grey tones enliven the white, glossy interiors of the sushi area before morphing into deep reds and burnt oranges to intensify the heat that greets customers when they enter the BBQ.


The application of the ‘Order vs. Chaos’ concept worked harmoniously with Architects EAT’s interiors to succeed in creating a unique escalation of mood and ambiance throughout the restaurant.

The visuals were successfully applied to walls to create a tangible shift in moods throughout the restaurant. As customers move from the sushi area through to the heat and gloom of the BBQ, the signage and wall graphics reflect and accelerate the change in atmosphere.
The visual language was applied to external and internal modular signage that welcomes visitors to the restaurant and provides a taste of what lies within.

Tetsujin has been extremely busy since opening with extensive press and social media coverage.

This award celebrates creativity and innovation in the intersection of communication design and the built environment, and is concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communication identity and brands, information design and shaping the idea of place. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching of information style to audience.
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